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Introduction 13 

Britain under the Romans 15 

Britain under the Saxons 16 

Conversion of the Saxons to Christianity 17 

Danish Invasions ; The Normans 20 

The Norman Conquest 23 

Separation of England and Normandy 25 

Amalgamation of Races % 26 

English Conquests on the Continent 28 

Wars of the Roses 30 

Extinction of Villenage 31 

Beneficial Operation of the Roman Catholic Religion 32 

The early English Polity often misrepresented, and why? .... 34 

Nature of the Limited Monarchies of the Middle Ages 36 

Prerogatives of the early English Kings 37 

Limitations of the Prerogative 38 

Resistance an ordinary Check on Tyranny in the Middle Ages 42 

Peculiar Character of the English Aristocracy 45 

Government of the Tudors 46 

Limited Monarchies of the Middle Ages generally turned into 

Absolute Monarchies 49 

The English Monarchy a singular Exception 50 

The Reformation and its Effects 51 

Origin of the Church of England 55 

Her peculiar Character 57 

Relation in which she stood to the Crown 59 

The Puritans 63 

Their Republican Spirit 65 

No systematic parliamentary Opposition offered to the Gov- 
ernment of Elizabeth 66 

VOL. I. 5 



Question of the Monopolies 67 

Scotland and Ireland become Parts of the same Empire with 

England 68 

Diminution of the Importance of England after the Accession 

of James 1 72 

Doctrine of Divine Right 73 

The Separation between the Church and the Puritans be- 
comes wider 77 

Accession and Character of Charles I . . . 85 

Tactics of the Opposition in the House of Commons 86 

Petition of Right 87 

Petition of Right violated ; Character and Designs of Went- 

worth 88 

Character of Laud 89 

Star Chamber and High Commission 90 

Ship-Money 91 

Resistance to the Liturgy in Scotland 91 

A Parliament called and dissolved 95 

The Long Parliament 97 

First Appearance of the Two great English Parties 98 

The Remonstrance 105 

Impeachment of the Five Members 107 

Departure of Charles from London 108 

Commencement of the Civil War Ill 

Successes of the Royalists 112 

Rise of the Independents 114 

Oliver Cromwell 115 

Self denying Ordinance ; Victory of the Parliament 116 

Domination and Character of the Army 117 

Rising against the Military Government suppressed 120 

Proceedings against the King 121 

His Execution 124 

Subjugation of Ireland and Scotland 126 

Expulsion of the Long Parliament 127 

The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell 130 

Oliver succeeded by Richard 135 

Fall of Richard and Revival of the Long Parliament 137 

Second Expulsion of the Long Parliament 138 

The Army of Scotland marches into England 139 

Monk declares for a Free Parliament 141 



General Election of 1660 142 

The Restoration 143 


Conduct of those who restored the House of Stuart unjustly 

censured 145 

Abolition of Tenures by Knight Service ; Disbandment of the 

Army. . 147 

Disputes between the Roundheads and Cavaliers renewed 118 

Religious Dissension 150 

Unpopularity of the Puritans 153 

Character of Charles II 1 59 

Character of the Duke of York and Earl of Clarendon ...... 1(52 

General Election of 1661. .-. 165 

Violence of the Cavaliers in the new Parliament 166 

Persecution of the Puritans 167 

Zeal of the Church for Hereditary Monarchy 168 

Change in the Morals of the Community 169 

Profligacy of Politicians 171 

State of Scotland 173 

State of Ireland 176 

The Government become unpopular in England 177 

War with the Dutch 180 

Opposition in the House of Commons 181 

Fall of Clareudon 182 

State of European Politics, and Ascendency of France 185 

Character of Lewis XIV 187 

The Triple Alliance. 189 

The Country Party 190 

Connection between Charles II. and France 191 

Views of Lewis with respect to England 1 94 

Treaty of Dover 196 

Nature of the English Cabinet 197 

The Cabal 198 

Shutting of the Exchequer 201 

War with the United Provinces, and their extreme Danger. . . 202 

William, Prince of Orange 203 

Meeting of the Parliament ; Declaration of Indulgence 205 

It is cancelled, and the Test Act passed 207 

The Cabal dissolved 208 



Peace with the United Provinces ; Administration of Danby 209 

Embarrassing Situation of the Country Party 211 

Dealings of that Party with the French Embassy 213 

Peace of Nimeguen 213 

Violent Discontents in England 214 

Fall of Danby ; the Popish Plot 216 

Violence of the new House of Commons 221 

Temple's Plan of Government 223 

Character of Halifax 225 

Character of Sunderland 228 

Prorogation of the Parliament ; Habeas Corpus Act ; Second 

General Election of 1679 230 

Popularity of Monmouth 231 

Lawrence Hyde 235 

Sidney Godolphin 236 

Violence of Factions on the Subject of the Exclusion Bill. . . . 237 

Names of Whig and Tory 238 

Meeting of Parliament ; The Exclusion Bill passes the Com- 
mons ; Exclusion Bill rejected by the Lords 239 

Execution of Stafford ; General Election of 1681 240 

Parliament held at Oxford, and dissolved 241 

Tory Reaction 242 

Persecution of the Whigs 244 

Charter of the City confiscated ; Whig Conspiracies 245 

Detection of the Whig Conspiracies 247 

Severity of the Government ; Seizure of Charters 248 

Influence of the Duke of York 250 

He is opposed by Halifax 251 

Lord Guildford 252 

Policy of Lewis 254 

State of Factions in the Court of Charles at the time of his 

Death 256 


Great Change in the State of England since 1685 257 

Population of England in 16S5 259 

Increase of Population greater in the North than in the South 261 

Revenue in 1685 264 

Military System 266 

The Navy 273 



The Ordnance 280 

Noneffective Charge ; Charge of Civil Government 281 

Great Gains of Ministers and Courtiers 282 

State of Agriculture 285 

Mineral Wealth of the Country 289 

Increase of Rent 291 

The Country Gentlemen 292 

The Clergy 296 

The Yeomanry ; Growth of the Towns ; Bristol 306 

Norwich 308 

Other Country Towns 309 

Manchester ; Leeds ; Sheffield 311 

Birmingham 313 

Liverpool 314 

Watering-places ; Cheltenham ; Brighton ; Buxton ; Tunbridge 

Wells 315 

Bath 316 

London 318 

The City 320 

Fashionable Part of the Capital 324 

Police of London 329 

Lighting of London 330 

Whitefriars ; The Court 331 

The Coffee Houses 334 

Difficulty of Travelling 338 

Badness of the Roads 339 

Stage Coaches 343 

Highwaymen 346 

Inns 349 

Post Office 350 

Newspapers 352 

News-letters 354 

The Observator 356 

Scarcity of Books in Country Places ; Female Education 357 

Literary Attainments of Gentlemen 359 

Influence of French Literature 360 

Immorality of the Polite Literature of England 361 

State of Science in England 368 

State of the Fine Arts 373 

State of the Common People ; Agricultural Wages 376 



Wages of Manufacturers 378 

Labour of Children in Factories 379 

Wages of different Classes of Artisans 380 

Number of Paupers 381 

Benefits derived by the Common People from the Progress of 

Civilisation 382 

Delusion which leads Men to overrate the Happiness of pre- 
ceding Generations 3S5 


Death of Charles II 387 

Suspicions of Poison ^ 398 

Speech of James II. to the Privy Council 400 

James proclaimed 401 

State of the Administration 402 

New Arrangements 404 

Sir George Jeffreys '. 406 

The Revenue collected without an Act of Parliament 410 

A Parliament called 411 

Transactions between James and the French King. 412 

Churchill sent Ambassador to France ; His History 415 

Feelings of the Continental Governments towards England. . 418 

Policy of the Court of Rome 420 

Struggle in the Mind of James ; Fluctuations in his Policy.. . 423 
Public Celebration of the Roman. Catholic Rites in the Palace 425 

His Coronation 427 

Enthusiasm of the Tories ; Addresses 430 

The Elections 431 

Proceedings against Oates 435 

Proceedings against Dangerfield 440 

Proceedings against Baxter 442 

Meeting of the Parliament of Scotland 446 

Feeling of James towards the Puritans. 447 

Cruel Treatment of the Scotch Covenanters. 449 

Feeling of James towards the Quakers 453 

William Penn 455 

Peculiar Favour shown to Roman Catholics and Quakers. . . . 458 
Meeting of the English Parliament; Trevor chosen Speaker; 

Character of Seymour 461 

The King's Speech to the Parliament 463 


« PAGE. 

Debate in the Commons ; Speech of Seymour 464 

The Revenue voted ; Proceedings of the Commons concerning 

Religion 465 

Additional Taxes voted ; Sir Dudley North 467 

Proceedings of the Lords ... 469 

Bill for reversing the Attainder of Stafford 470 


Whig Refugees on the Continent 472 

Their Correspondents in England 473 

Characters of the leading Refugees ; Ayloffe ; Wade 474 

Goodenough ; Rumbold 475 

Lord Grey ... 476 

Monmouth 477 

Ferguson 478 

Scotch Refugees ; Earl of Argyle 453 

Sir Patrick Hume; Sir John Cochrane ; Fletcher of Saltoun . 486 

Unreasonable Conduct of the Scotch Refugees 487 

Arrangement for an Attempt on England and Scotland 488 

John Locke 490 

Preparations made by Government for the Defence of Scot- 
land 491 

Conversation of James with the Dutch Ambassadors ; Ineffec- 
tual Attempts to prevent Argyle from sailing 492 

Departure of Argyle from Holland; He lands in Scotland... . 495 

His Disputes with his Followers 496 

Temper of the Scotch Nation 498 

Argyle's Forces dispersed • 501 

Argyle a Prisoner 502 

His Execution 507 

Execution of Rumbold 508 

Death of Ayloffe 510 

Devastation of Argyleshire 511 

Ineffectual Attempts to prevent Monmouth from leaving Hol- 
land 512 

His Arrival at Lyme 514 

His Declaration 515 

His Popularity in the West of England 516 

Encounter of the Rebels with the Militia at Bridport 518 

Encounter of the Rebels with the Militia at Axminster ; News 



of the Rebellion carried to London ; Loyalty of the Parlia- 
ment 520 

Reception of Monmouth at Taunton 524 

He takes the Title of King 527 

His Reception at Bridgewater 531 

Preparations of the Government to oppose him 532 

His Design on Bristol 535 

He relinquishes that Design 536 

Skirmish at Philip's Norton; Despondence of Monmouth. . . . 538 
He returns to Bridgewater ; The Royal Army encamps at 

Sedgemoor 540 

Battle of Sedgemoor 544 

Pursuit of the Rebels 550 

Military Executions ; Flight of Monmouth 551 

His Capture 553 

His Letter to the King ; He is carried to London 555 

His Interview with the King 556 

His Execution 560 

His Memory cherished by the Common People 563 

Cruelties of the Soldiers in the West ; Kirke 566 

Jeffreys sets out on the Western Circuit 571 

Trial of Alice Lisle 572 

The Bloody Assizes 576 

Abraham Holmes 579 

Christopher Battiscombe; The Hewlings 580 

Punishment of Tutchin 581 

Rebels Transported 582 

Confiscation and Extortion 5S3 

Rapacity of the Queen and her Ladies 585 

Grey ; Cochrane ; Storey 591 

Wade, Goodenough, and Ferguson 591 

Jeffreys made Lord Chancellor 593 

Trial and Fxecution of Cornish 594 

Trials and Executions of Fernley and Elizabeth Gaunt 596 

Trial and Execution of Bateman 598 

Persecution of the Protestant Dissenters 59C 



I purpose to write the history of England from the accession 
of Kins: James the Second down to a time which is within the 
memory of men still living. I shall recount the errors which, 
in a few months, alienated a loyal gentry and priesthood from 
the House of Stuart. I shall trace the course of that revolution 
which terminated the long struggle between our sovereigns and 
their parliaments, and bound up together the rights of the peo- 
ple and the title of the reigning dynasty. I shall relate how the 
new settlement was, during many troubled years, successfully 
defended against foreign and domestic enemies ; how, under that 
settlement, the authority of law and the security of property 
were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of 
individual action never before known ; how, from the auspicious 
union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the 
annals of human affairs had furnished no example ; how our 
country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to 
the place of umpire among European powers ; how her opulence 
and her martial glory grew together ; how, by wise and resolute 
good faith, was gradually established a public credit fruitful of 
marvels which to the statesmen of any former age would have 
seemed incredible ; how a gigantic commerce gave birth to a 
maritime power, compared with which every other maritime 
power, ancient or modern, sinks into insignificance ; how Scot- 
land, after ages of enmity, was at length united to England, not 
merely by legal bonds, but by indissoluble ties of interest and 
affection ; how, in America, the British colonies rapidly became 
far mightier and wealthier than the realms which Cortes and 



Pizarro had added to the dominions of Charles the Fifth ; how 
in Asia, British adventurers founded an empire not less splen- 
did and more durable than that of Alexander. 

Nor will it be less my duty faithfully to record disasters 
mingled with triumphs, and great national crimes and follies 
far more humiliating than any disaster. It will be seen that 
even what we justly account our chief blessings were not with- 
out alloy. It will be seen that the system which effectually se- 
cured our liberties against the encroachments of kingly power 
gave birth to a new class of abuses from which absolute monar- 
chies are exempt. It will be seen that, in consequence partly of 
unwise interference, and partly of unwise neglect, the increase of 
wealth and the extension of trade produced, together with 
immense good, some evils from which poor and rude societies 
are free. It will be seen how, in two important dependencies of the 
crown, wrong was followed by just retribution ; how imprudence 
and obstinacy broke the ties which bound the North American 
colonies to the parent state ; how Ireland, cursed by the domina- 
tion of race over race, and of religion over religion, remained 
indeed a member of the empire, but a withered and distorted 
member, adding no strength to the body politic, and reproachfully 
pointed at by all who feared or envied the greatness of Eng- 

Yet, unless I greatly deceive myself, the general effect of 
this chequered narrative will be to excite thankfulness in all reli- 
gious minds, and hope in the breasts of all patriots. For the 
history of our country during the last hundred and sixty years 
is eminently the history of physical, of moral, and of intellectual 
improvement. Those who compare the age on which their lot 
has fallen with a golden age which exists only in their imagina- 
tion may talk of degeneracy and decay : but no man who is 
correctly informed as to the past will be disposed to take a mo- 
rose or desponding view of the present. 

I should very imperfectly execute the task which I have 
undertaken if I were merely to treat of battles and sieges, of the, 
rise and fall of administrations, of intrigues in the palace, and of 
debates in the parliament. It will be my endeavour to relate the 


history of the people as well as the history of the government, 
to trace the progress of useful and ornamental arts, to describe 
the rise of religious sects and the changes of literary taste, to 
portray the manners of successive generations and not to pass 
by with neglect even the revolutions which have taken place in 
dress, furniture, repasts, and public amusements. I shall cheer- 
fully bear the reproach of having descended below the dignity 
of history, if I can succeed in placing before the English of the 
nineteenth century a true picture of the life of their ancestors. 

The events which I propose to relate form only a single 
act of a great and eventful drama extending through ages, and 
must be very imperfectly understood unless the plot of the 
preceding acts be well known. I shall therefore introduce my 
narrative by a slight sketch of the history of our country from 
the earliest times. I shall pass very rapidly over many cen- 
turies : but I shall dwell at some length on the vicissitudes of 
that contest which the administration of King James the Second 
brought to a decisive crisis.* 

Nothing in the early existence of Britain indicated the 
greatness which she was destined to attain. Her inhabitants 
when first they became known to the Tyrian mariners, were 
little superior to the natives of the Sandwich Islands. She 
was subjugated by the Roman arms ; but she received only a 
faint tincture of Roman arts and letters. Of the western prov- 
inces which obeyed the Caesars, she was the last that was 
conquered, and the first that was flung away. No magnificent 
remains of Latin porches and aqueducts are to be found in 
Britain. No writer of British birth is reckoned among the 
masters of Latin poetry and eloquence. It is not probable that 
the islanders were at any time generally familiar with the 
tongue of their Italian rulers. From the Atlantic to the 
vicinity of the Rhine the Latin has, during many centuries, 

* In this, and in the next chapter, I have very seldom thought it necessary to 
cite authorities : for. in these chapters, I have not. detailed events minutely, or 
used recondite materials ; and the facts which I mention are for the most part 
such that a person tolerably well read in Eng'ish history, if not already ap- 
prised of them, will at least know where to look for evidence of them. In the 
subsequent chapters I shall carefully indicate the sources of my information. 


been predominant. It drove out the Celtic ; it was not driven 
out by the Teutonic ; and it is at this day the basis of the 
French, Spanish and Portuguese languages. In our island the 
Latin appears never to have superseded the old Gaelic speech, 
and could not stand its ground against the German. 

The scanty and superficial civilisation which the Britons had 
derived from their southern masters was effaced by the calamities 
of the fifth century. In the continental kingdoms into which 
the Roman empire was then dissolved, the conquerors learned 
much from the conquered race. In Britain the conquered race 
became as barbarous as the conquerors. 

All the chiefs who founded Teutonic dynasties in the con- 
tinental provinces of the Roman empire, Alaric, Theodoric, 
Clovis, Alboin, were zealous Christians. The followers of Ida 
and Cerdic, on the other hand, brought to their settlements in 
Britain all the superstitions of the Elbe. While the German 
princes who reigned at Paris, Toledo, Aries, and Ravenna 
listened with reverence to the instructions of bishops, adored 
the relics of martyrs, and took part eagerly in disputes touching 
the Nicene theology, the rulers of Wessex and Mercia were 
still performing savage rites in the temples of Thor and 

The continental kingdoms which had risen on the ruins of 
the Western Empire kept up some intercourse with those 
eastern provinces where the ancient civilisation, though slowly 
fading away under the influence of misgovernment, might still 
astonish and instruct barbarians, where the court still exhibited 
the splendour of Diocletian and Constantine, where the public 
buildings were still adorned with the sculptures of Polycletus 
and the paintings of Apelles, and where laborious pedants, 
themselves destitute of taste, sense, and spirit, could still read 
and interpret the masterpieces of Sophocles, of Demosthenes, 
and of Plato. From this communion Britain was cut off. Her 
shores were, to the polished race which dwelt by the Bosphorus, 
objects of a mysterious horror, such as that with which the 
Ionians of the age of Homer had regarded the Straits of Scylla 
and the city of the Laestrygonian cannibals. There was one 


province of our island in which, as Procopius had been told, 
the ground was covered with serpents, and the air was such that 
no man could inhale it and live. To this desolate region the 
spirits of the departed were ferried over from the laud of the 
Franks at midnight. A strange race of fishermen performed 
the ghastly office. The speech of the dead was distinctly heard 
by the boatmen . their weight made the keel sink deep in the 
water ; but their forms were invisible to mortal eye. Such 
were the marvels which an able historian, the contemporary of 
Belisarius, of Simplicius, and of Tribonian, gravely related in 
the rich and polite Constantinople, touching the country in 
which the founder of Constantinople had assumed the imperial 
purple. ' Concerning all the other provinces of the Western 
Empire we have continuous information. It is only in Britain 
that an age of fable completely separates two ages of truth. 
Odoacer and Totila, Euric and Thrasimund, Clovis, Fredegunda, 
and Brunechild, are historical men and women. But Hengist 
and Horsa, Vortigern and Rowena, Arthur and Mordred are 
mythical persons, whose very existence may be questioned, and 
whose adventures must be classed with those of Hercules and 

At length the darkness begins to break ; and the country 
which had been lost to view as Britain reappears as England. 
The conversion of the Saxon colonists to Christianity was the 
first of a long series of salutary revolutions. It is true that 
the Church had been deeply corrupted both by that superstition 
and by that philosophy against which she had long contended, 
and over which she had at last triumphed. She had given a 
too easy admission to doctrines borrowed from the ancient 
schools, and to rites borrowed from the ancient temples. Ro- 
man policy and Gothic ignorance, Grecian ingenuity and Syrian 
asceticism, had contributed to deprave her. Yet she retained 
enough of the sublime theology and benevolent morality of her 
earlier days to elevate many intellects, and to purify many 
hearts. Some things also which at a later period were justly 
regarded as among her chief blemishes were, in the seventh 
century, and long afterwards, among her chief merits. That 



the sacerdotal order should encroach on the functions of the 
civil magistrate would, in our time, be a great evil. But that 
which in an age of good government is an evil may, in an a^e 
of grossly bad government, be a blessing. It is better that man- 
kind should be governed by wise laws well administered, and 
by an enlightened public opinion, than by priestcraft : but it is 
better that men should be governed by priestcraft than by brute 
violence, by such a prelate as Dunstan than by such a warrior 
as Penda. A society sunk in ignorance, and ruled by mere 
physical force, has great reason to rejoice when a class, of which 
the influence is intellectual and moral, rises to ascendency. 
Such a class will doubtless abuse its power : but mental power, 
even when abused, is still a nobler and better power than that 
which consists merely in corporeal strength. We read in our 
Saxon chronicles of tyrants, who, when at the height of great- 
ness, were smitten with remorse, who abhorred the pleasures 
and dignities which they had purchased by guilt, who abdicated 
their crowns, and who sought to atone for their offences by 
cruel penances and incessant prayers. These stories have drawn 
forth bitter expressions of contempt from some writers who, 
while they boasted of liberality, were in truth as narrow-mind- 
ed as any monk of the dark ages, and whose habit was to apply 
to all events in the history of the world the standard received in 
the Parisian society of the eighteenth century. Yet surely a 
system which, however deformed by superstition, introduced 
strong moral restraints into communities previously governed 
only by vigour of muscle and by audacity of spirit, a system which 
taught the fiercest and mightiest ruler that he was, like his mean- 
est bondman, a responsible being, might have seemed to deserve 
a more respectful mention from philosophers and philanthropists. 
The same observations will apply to the contempt with 
which, in the last century, it was fashionable to speak of the 
pilgrimages, the sanctuaries, the crusades, and the monastic 
institutions of the middle a^es. In times when men were 
scarcely ever induced to travel by liberal curiosity, or by the 
pursuit of gain, it was better that the rude inhabitant of the 
North should visit Italy and the East as a pilgrim, than that he 


should never see anything but those squalid cabins and un- 
cleared woods amidst which he was born. In times when life 
and when female honour were exposed to daily risk from ty- 
rants and marauders, it was better that the precinct of a shrine 
should be regarded with an irrational awe, than that there 
should be no refuge inaccessible to cruelty*and licentiousness. 
In times when statesmen were incapable of forming extensive 
political combinations, it was better that the Christian nations 
should be roused and united for the recovery of the Holy 
Sepulchre, than that they should, one by one, be overwhelmed 
by the Mahometan power. Whatever reproach may, at a 
later period, have been justly thrown on the indolence and 
luxury of religious orders, it was surely good that, in an age 
of ignorance and violence, there should be quiet cloisters and 
gardens, in which the arts of peace could be safely cultivated, 
in which gentle and contemplative natures could find an 
asylum, in which one brother could employ himself in tran- 
scribing the -ZEneid of Vircnl, and another in meditating the 
Analytics of Aristotle, in which he who had a genius for art 
might illuminate a martyrology or carve a crucifix, and in 
which he who had a turn for natural philosophy might make 
experiments on the properties of plants and minerals. Had 
not such retreats been scattered here and there, among the 
huts of a miserable peasantry, and the castles of a ferocious 
aristocracy, European society would have consisted merely of 
beasts of burden and beasts of prey. The Church has many 
times been compared by divines to the ark of which we read 
in the Book of Genesis : but never was the resemblance more 
perfect than during that evil time when she alone rode, «amidst 
darkness and tempest, on the deluge beneath which all the great 
works of ancient power and wisdom lay entombed, bearing 
within her that feeble germ from which a second and more 
glorious civilisation was to spring. 

Even the spiritual supremacy arrogated by the Pope was, 
in the dark ages, productive of far more good than evil. Its 
effect was to unite the nations of Western Europe in one great 
commonwealth. What the Olympian chariot course and the 


Pythian oracle were to all the Greek cities, from Trebizond to 
Marseilles, Rome and her Bishop were to all Christians of the 
Latin communion, from Calabria to the Hebrides. Thus grew 
up sentiments of enlarged benevolence. Races separated from 
each other by seas and mountains acknowledged a fraternal tie 
and a common code of public law. Even in war, the cruelty of 
the conqueror was not seldom mitigated by the recollection that 
he and his vanquished enemies were all members of one great 

Into this federation our Saxon ancestors were now admitted. 
A regular communication was opened between our shores and 
that part of Europe in which the traces of ancient power and 
policy were yet discernible. Many noble monuments which 
have since been destroyed or defaced still retained their pris- 
tine magnificence ; and travellers, to whom Livy and Sallust 
were unintelligible, might gain from the Roman aqueducts and 
temples some faint notion of Roman history. The dome of 
Agrippa, still glittering with bronze, the mausoleum of Adrian, 
not yet deprived of its columns and statues, the Flavian amphi- 
theatre, not yet degraded into a quarry, told to the rude English 
pilgrims some part of the story of that great civilised world 
which had passed away. The islanders returned, with awe 
deeply impressed on their half opened minds, and told the won- 
dering inhabitants of the hovels of London and York that, near 
the grave of Saint Peter, a mighty race, now extinct, had piled 
up buildings which would never be dissolved till the judgment 
day. Learning followed in the train of Christianity. The 
poetry and eloquence of the Augustan age was assiduously 
studied in Mercian and Northumbrian monasteries. The names 
of Bede and Alcuin were justly celebrated throughout Europe. 
Such was the state of our country when, in the ninth century, 
began the last great migration of the northern barbarians. 

During many years Denmark and Scandinavia continued to 
pour forth innumerable pirates, distinguished by strength, by 
valour, by merciless ferocity, and by hatred of the Christian 
name. No country suffered so much from these invaders as 
England. Her coast lay near to the ports whence they sailed ; 


nor was any shire so far distant from the sea as to be secure 
from atta k. The same atrocities which had attended the victory 
of the Saxon over the Celt were now, after the lapse of ages, 
suffered by the Saxon at the hand of the Dane. Civilization, 
just as it began to rise, was met by this blow, and sank down 
once more. Large colonies of adventurers from the Baltic 
established themselves on the eastern shores of our island, spread 
gradually westward, and, supported by constant reinforcements 
from I eyond the sea, aspired to the dominion of the whole realm. 
The strmjirle between the two fierce Teutonic breeds lasted 
through six generations. Each was alternately paramount. 
Cruel massacres followed by cruel retribution, provinces wasted, 
convents plundered, and cities rased to the ground, make up the 
greater part of the history of those evil days. At length the 
North ceased to send forth a constant stream of fresh depreda- 
tors ; and from that time the mutual aversion of the races be- 
gan to subside. Intermarriage became frequent. The Danes 
learned the religion of the Saxons ; and thus one cause of deadly 
animosity was removed. The Danish and Saxon tongues, both 
dialects of one widespread language, were blended together. 
But the distinction between the two nations was by no means 
effaced, when an event took place which prostrated both, in 
common slavery and degradation, at the feet of a third people. 
The Normans were then the foremost race of Christendom. 
Their valour and ferocity had made them conspicuous among 
the rovers whom Scandinavia had sent forth to ravage Western 
Europe. Their sails were long the terror of both coasts of the 
Channel. Their arms were repeatedly carried far into the heart 
of the Carlovingian empire, and were victorious under the walls 
of Maestricht and Paris. At length one of the feeble heirs of 
Charlemagne ceded to the strangers a fertile province, watered 
by a noble river, and contiguous to the sea which was their 
favourite element. In that province they founded a mighty state, 
which gradually extended its influence over the neighbouring 
principalities of Britanny and Maine. Without laying aside 
that dauntless valour which had been the terror of every land 
from the Elbe to the Pyrenees, the Normans rapidly acquired 


all, and more than all, the knowledge and refinement which they 
found in the country where they settled. Their courage se- 
cured their territory against foreign invasion. They established 
internal order, such as had long been unknown in the Frank 
empire. They embraced Christianity ; and with Christianity 
they learned a great part of what the clergy had to teach. 
They abandoned their native speech, and adopted the French 
tongue, in which the Latin was the predominant element. They 
speedily raised their new language to a dignity and importance 
which it had never before possessed. They found it a barbarous 
jargon ; they fixed it in writing ; and they employed it in legis- 
lation, in poetry, and in romance. They renounced that brutal 
intemperance to which all the other branches of the great Ger- 
man family were too much inclined. The polite luxury of the 
Norman presented a striking contrast to the coarse voracity and 
drunkenness of his Saxon and Danish neighbours. He loved to 
display his magnificence, not in huge piles of food and hogsheads 
of strong drink, but in large and stately edifices, rich armour, 
gallant horses, choice falcons, well ordered tournaments, ban- 
quets delicate rather than abundant, and wines remarkable rather 
for their exquisite flavour than for their intoxicating power. 
That chivalrous spirit, which has exercised so powerful an in- 
fluence on the politics, morals, and manners of all the Euro- 
pean nations, was found in the highest exaltation amono- the 
Norman nobles. Those nobles were distinguished by their 
graceful bearing and insinuating address. They were distin- 
guished also by their skill in negotiation, and by a natural elo- 
quence which they assiduously cultivated. It was the boast of 
one of their historians that the Norman gentlemen were orators 
from the cradle. But their chief fame was derived from their 
military exploits. Every country, from the Atlantic Ocean to 
the Dead Sea, witnessed the prodigies of their discipline and 
valour. One Norman knight, at the head of a handful of war- 
riors, scattered the Celts of Connaught. Another founded the 
monarchy of the Two Sicilies, and saw the emperors both of 
the East and of the West fly before his arms. A third, the 
Ulysses of the first crusade, was invested by his fellow soldiers 


with the sovereignty of Antioch; and a fourth, the Tancred 
whose name lives in the great poem of Tasso, was celebrated 
through Christendom as the bravest and most generous of the 
deliverers of the Holy Sepulchre. 

The vicinity of so remarkable a people early began to pro- 
duce an effect on the public mind of England. Before the 
Conquest, English princes received their education in Norman- 
dy. English sees and English estates were bestowed on Nor- 
mans. The French of Normandy was familiarly spoken in the 
palace of Westminster. The court of Rouen seems to have been 
to the court of Edward the Confessor what the court of Ver- 
sailles long afterwards was to the court of Charles the Second. 

The battle of Hastings, and the events which followed it, 
not only placed a Duke of Normandy on the English throne, 
but gave up the whole population of England to the tyranny of 
the Norman race. The subjugation of a nation by a nation 
has seldom, even in Asia, been more complete. The country 
was portioned out among the captains of the invaders. Strong 
military institutions, closely connected with the institution of 
property, enabled the foreign conquerors to oppress the children 
of the soil. A cruel penal code, cruelly enforced, guarded the 
privileges, and even the sports, of the alien tyrants. Yet the 
subject race, though beaten down and trodden under foot, still 
made its sting felt. Some bold men, the favourite heroes of our 
oldest ballads, betook themselves to the woods, and there, in de- 
fiance of curfew laws and forest laws, waged a predatory war 
against their oppressors. Assassination was an event of daily 
occurrence. Many Normans suddenly disappeared leaving no 
trace. The corpses of many were found bearing the marks of vio- 
lence. Death by torture was denounced against the murderers, 
and strict search was made for them, but generally in vain ; for 
the whole nation was in a conspiracy to screen them. It was 
at length thought necessary to lay a heavy fine on every Hun- 
dred in which a person of French extraction should be found 
slain ; and this regulation was followed up by another r 'gulation, 
providing that every person who was found slain should be sup- 
posed to be a Frenchman, unless he was proved to be a Saxon. 


During the century and a half which followed the Conquest, 
there is, to speak strictly, no English history. The French 
Kings of England rose, indeed, to an eminence which was the 
wonder and dread of all neighbouring nations. They conquered 
Ireland. They received the homage of Scotland. By their 
valour, by their policy, by their fortunate matrimonial alliances, 
they became far more popular on the Continent than their liege 
lords the Kings of France. Asia, as well as Europe, was daz- 
zled by the power and glory of our tyrants. Arabian chroni- 
clers recorded with unwilling admiration the fall of Acre, the 
defence of Joppa, and the victorious march to Ascalon ; and 
Arabian mothers long awed their infants to silence with the 
name of the lionhearted Planta^enet. At one time it seemed 
that the line of Hugh Capet was about to end as the Merovin- 
gian and Carlovingian lines had ended, and that a single great 
monarchy would spread from the Orkneys to the Pyrenees. 
So strong an association is established in most minds between 
the greatness of a sovereign and the greatness of the nation 
which he rules, that almost every historian of England has ex- 
patiated with a sentiment of exultation on the power and splen- 
dour of her foreign masters, and has lamented the decay of that 
power and splendour as a calamity to our country. This is, in 
truth, as absurd as it would be in a Haytian negro of our time 
to dwell with national pride on the greatness of Lewis the 
Fourteenth, and to speak of Blenheim and Ramilies with patri- 
otic regret and shame. The Conqueror and his descendants to the 
fourth generation were not Englishmen : most of them were born 
in France : they spent the greater part of their lives in France : 
their ordinary speech was French : almost every high office in 
their gift was filled by a Frenchman : every acquisition which 
they made on the Continent estranged them more and more 
from the population of our island. One of the ablest among 
them indeed attempted to win the hearts of his English subjects 
by espousing an English princess. But, by many of his barons, 
this marriage was regarded as a marriage between a white plan- 
ter and a quadroon girl would now be regarded in Virginia. In 
history he is known by the honourable surname of Beauclerc ; 


but, in his own time, his own countrymen called him by a Saxon 
nickname, in contemptuous allusion to his Saxon connection. 

Had the Plantagenets, as at one time seemed likely, suc- 
ceeded in uniting all France under their government, it is prob- 
able that England would never have had an independent exist- 
ence. Her princes, her lords, her prelates, would have been 
men differing in race and language from the artisans and the 
tillers of the earth. The revenues of her great proprietors 
would have been spent in festivities and diversions on the banks 
of the Seine. The noble language of Milton and Burke would 
have remained a rustic dialect, without a literature, a fixed gram- 
mar, or a fixed orthography, and would have been contemptuously 
abandoned to the use of boors. No man of English extraction 
would have risen to eminence, except by becoming in speech and 
habits a Frenchman. 

England owes her escape from such calamities to an event 
which her historians have generally represented as disastrous. 
Her interest was so directly opposed to the interests of her 
rulers that she had no hope but in their errors and misfortunes. 
The talents and even the virtues of her first six French Kings 
were a curse to her. The follies and vices of the seventh were 
her salvation. Had John inherited the great qualities of his 
father, of Henry Beauclerc, or of the Conqueror, nay, had he 
even possessed the martial courage of Stephen or of Richard, 
and had the King of France at the same time been as incapable 
as all the other successors of Hugh Capet had been, the House 
of Plantagenet must have risen to unrivalled ascendency in Eu- 
rope. But, just at this conjuncture, France, for the first time 
since the death of Charlemagne, was governed by a prince of 
great firmness and ability. On the other hand England, which, 
since the battle of Hastings, had been ruled generally by wise 
statesmen, always by brave soldiers, fell under the dominion of 
a trifier and a coward. From that moment her prospects 
brightened. John was driven from Normandy. The Norman 
nobles were compelled to make their election between the island 
and the continent. Shut up by the sea with the people whom 
they had hitherto oppressed and despised, they gradually came to 


regard England as their country, and the English as their coun- 
trymen. The" two races, so long hostile, soon found that they 
had common interests and common enemies. Both were alike 
aggrieved by the tyranny of a bad king. Both were alike 
indignant at the favour shown by the court to the natives of 
Poitou and Aquitaine. The greatgrandsons of those who had 
fought under William and the greatgrandsons of those who had 
fought under Harold began to draw near to each other in 
friendship ; and the first pledge of their reconciliation was the 
Great Charter, won by their united exertions, and framed for 
their common benefit. 

Here commences the history of the English nation. The 
history of the preceding events is the history of wrongs inflict- 
ed and sustained by various tribes, which indeed all dwelt on 
English ground, but which regarded each other with aversion 
such as has scarcely ever existed between communities separa- 
ted by physical barriers. For even the mutual animosity of 
countries at war with each other is languid when compared with 
the animosity of nations which, morally separated, are yet local- 
ly intermingled. In no country has the enmity of race been 
carried farther than in England. In no country has that enmity 
been more completely effaced. The stages of the process by 
which the hostile elements were melted down into one homoge- 
neous mass are not accurately known to us. But it is certain 
that, when John became King, the distinction between Saxons 
and Normans was strongly marked, and that before the end of 
the reign of his grandson it had almost disappeared. In the 
time of Richard the First, the ordinary imprecation of a Nor- 
man gentleman was " May I become an Englishman ! ' : His 
ordinary form of indignant denial was " Do you take me for an 
Englishman ? " The descendant of such a gentleman a hundred 
years later was proud of the English name. 

The sources of the noblest rivers which spread fertility over 
continents, and bear richly laden fleets to the sea, are to be sought 
in wild and barren mountain tracts, incorrectly laid down in 
maps, and rarely explored by travellers. To such a tract the 
history of our country during the thirteenth century may not 


unaptly be compared. Sterile and obscure as is that portion of 
our annals, it is there that we must seek for the origin of our 
freedom, our prosperity, and our glory. Then it was that the 
great English people was formed, that the national character be- 
gan to exhibit those peculiarities which it has ever since retain- 
ed, and that our fathers became emphatically islanders, islanders 
not merely in geographical position, but in their politics, 
their feelings, and their manners. Then first appeared with dis- 
tinctness that constitution which has ever since, through all 
changes, preserved its identity ; that constitution of which all 
the other free constitutions in the world are copies, and which, 
in spite of some defects, deserves to be regarded as the best un- 
der which any great society has ever yet existed during many 
ages. Then it was that the House of Commons, the archetype 
of all the representative assemblies which now meet, either in 
the old or in the new world, held its first sittings. Then it 
was that the common law rose to the dignity of a science, and 
rapidly became a not unworthy rival of the imperial jurisprudence. 
Then it was that the courage of those sailors who manned the 
rude barks of the Cinque Ports first made the flag of England 
terrible on the seas. Then it was that the most ancient colleges 
which still exist at both the great national seats of learning were 
founded. Then was formed that language, less musical indeed 
than the languages of the south, but in force, in richness, in ap- 
titude for all the highest purposes of the poet, the philosopher, 
and the orator, inferior to the tongue of Greece alone. Then 
too appeared the first faint dawn of that noble literature, the most 
splendid and the most durable of the many glories of England. 
Early in the fourteenth century the amalgamation of the 
races was all but complete ; and it was soon made manifest, by 
signs not to be mistaken, that a people inferior to none ex- 
isting in the world had been formed by the mixture of three 
branches of the great Teutonic family with each other, and with 
the aboriginal Britons. There was, indeed, scarcely any thing 
in common between the England to which John had been 
chased by Philip Augustus, and the England from which the 
armies of Edward the Third went forth to conquer France. 



A period of more than a hundred years followed, during 
which the chief object of the English was to establish, by force 
of arras, a great empire on the Continent. The claim of Edward 
to the inheritance occupied by the House of Valois was a claim 
in which it might seem that his subjects were little interested. 
But the passion for conquest spread fast from the prince to the 
people. The war differed widely from the wars which the Plan- 
tagenets of the twelfth century had waged against the descend- 
ants of Hugh Capet. For the success of Henry the Second, or 
of Richard the First, would have made England a province of 
France. The effect of the successes of Edward the Third and 
Henry the Fifth was to make France, for a time, a province of 
England. The disdain with which, in the twelfth century, the 
conquerors from the Continent had regarded the islanders, was 
now retorted by the islanders on the people of the Continent. 
Every yeoman from Kent to Northumberland valued himself as 
one of a race born for victory and dominion, and looked down 
with scorn on the nation before which his ancestors had trem- 
bled. Even those knights of Gascony and Guienne who had 
fought gallantly under the Black Prince were regarded by the 
English as men of an inferior breed, and were contemptuously ex- 
cluded from honourable and lucrative commands. In no long 
time our ancestors altogether lost sight of the original ground of 
quarrel. They began to consider the crown of France as a mere 
appendage to the crown of England ; and, when in violation of 
the ordinary law of succession, they transferred the crown of 
England to the House of Lancaster, they seem to have thought 
that the right of Richard the Second to the crown of France 
passed, as of course, to that house. The zeal and vigour which 
they displayed present a remarkable contrast to the torpor of the 
French, who were far more deeply interested in the event of 
the struggle. The most splendid victories recorded in the his- 
tory of the middle ages were gained at this time, against great 
odds, by the English armies. Victories indeed they were of 
which a nation may justly be proud ; for they are to be attribu- 
ted to the moral superiority of the victors, a superiority which 
was most striking in the lowest ranks. The knights of England 


found worthy rivals in the knights of France. Chandos en- 
countered an equal foe in Du Guesclin. But France had no 
infantry that dared to face the English bows and bills. A 
French King was brought prisoner to London. An English 
King was crowned at Paris. The banner of St. George was 
rcarried far beyond the Pyrenees and the Alps. On the south 
of the Ebro the English won a great battle, which for a time 
decided the fate of Leon and Castile ; and the English Com- 
panies obtained a terrible preeminence among the bands of 
warriors who let out their weapons for hire to the princes and 
commonwealths of Italy. 

Nor were the arts of peace neglected by our fathers during 
that stirring period. While France was wasted by war, till 
she at length found in her own desolation a miserable defence 
against invaders, the English gathered in their harvests, adorned 
their cities, pleaded, traded, and studied in security. Many 
of our noblest architectural monuments belong to that age. 
Then rose the fair chapels of New College and of Saint George, 
the nave of Winchester and the choir of York, the spire of 
Salisbury and the majestic towers of Lincoln. A copious and 
forcible language, formed by an infusion of French into Ger- 
man, was now the common property of the aristocracy and of 
the people. Nor was it long before genius began to apply that 
admirable machine to worthy purposes. While English war- 
riors, leaving behind them the devastated provinces of France, 
entered Valladolld in triumph, and spread terror to the gates 
of Florence, English poets depicted in vivid tints all the wide 
variety of human manners and fortunes, and English thinkers 
aspired to know, or dared to doubt, wherp bigots had been con- 
tent to wonder and to believe. The same age which produced 
the Black Prince and Derby, Chandos and Hawkwood, pro- 
duced also Geoffrey Chaucer and John Wycliffe. 

In so splendid and imperial a manner did the English 
people, properly so called, first take place among the nations 
of the world. Yet while we contemplate with pleasure the 
high and commanding qualities which our forefathers displayed, 
we cannot but admit that the end which they pursued was an 


end condemned both by humanity and by enlightened policy, 
and that the reverses which compelled them, after a long and 
bloody struggle, to relinquish the hope of establishing a great 
continental empire, were really blessings in the guise of disas- 
ters. The spirit of the French was at last aroused : they be- 
gan to oppose a vigorous national resistance to the foreign 
conquerors ; and from that time the skill of the English cap- 
tains and the courage of the English soldiers were, happily for 
mankind, exerted in vain. After many desperate struggles, 
and with many bitter regrets, our ancestors gave up the contest. 
Since that age no British government has ever seriously and 
steadily pursued the design of making great conquests on the 
Continent. The people, indeed, continued to cherish with pride 
the recollection of Cressy, of Poitiers, and of Agincourt. Even 
after the lapse of many years it was easy to fire their blood and 
to draw forth their subsidies by promising them an expedition 
for the conquest of France. But happily the energies of our 
country have been directed to better objects ; and she now 
occupies in the history of mankind a place far more glorious 
than if she had, as at one time seemed not improbable, acquired 
by the sword an ascendency similar to that which formerly be- 
longed to the Roman republic. 

Cooped up once more within the limits of the island, the 
warlike people employed in civil strife those arms which had 
been the terror of Europe. The means of profuse expenditure 
had long been drawn by the English barons from the oppressed 
provinces of France. That source of supply was gone : but 
the ostentatious and luxurious habits which prosperity had 
engendered still remomed ; and the great lords, unable to grati- 
fy their tastes by plundering the French, were eager to plunder 
each other. The realm to which they were now confined would 
not, in the phrase of Comines, the most judicious observer of 
that time, suffice for them all. Two aristocratical factions, 
headed by two branches of the royal family, engaged in a long 
and fierce struggle for supremacy. As the animosity of those 
factions did not realty arise from the dispute about the succes- 
sion it lasted long after all ground of dispute about the succes- 


sion was removed. The party of the Red Rose survived the 
last prince who claimed the crown in right of Henry the Fourth. 
The party of the White Rose survived the marriage of Rich- 
mond and Elizabeth. Left without chiefs who had any decent 
show of riffht, the adherents of Lancaster rallied round a line 
of bastards, and the adherents of York set up a succession of 
impostors. When, at length, many aspiring nobles had perished 
on the field of battle or by 'the hands of the executioner, when 
many illustrious houses had disappeared forever from history, 
when those great families which remained had been exhausted 
and sobered by calamities, it was universally acknowledged that 
the claims of all the contending Plantagenets were united in 
the house of Tudor. 

Meanwhile a change was proceeding infinitely more mo- 
mentous than the acquisition or loss of any province, than the 
rise or fall of any dynasty. Slavery and the evils by which 
slavery is everywhere accompanied were fast disappearing. 

It is remarkable that the two greatest and most salutary 
social revolutions which have taken place in England, that 
revolution which, in the thirteenth century, put an end to the 
tyranny of nation over nation, and that revolution which, a few 
generations later, put an end to the property of man in man, 
were silently and imperceptibly effected. They struck contem- 
porary observers with no surprise, and have received from his- 
torians a Yery scanty measure of attention. They were brought 
about neither by legislative regulations nor by physical force. 
Moral causes noiselessly effaced first the distinction between 
Norman and Saxon, and then the distinction between master 
and slave. None can venture to fix the precise moment at 
which either distinction ceased. Some faint traces of the old 
Norman feeling might perhaps have been found late in the 
fourteenth century. Some faint traces of the institution of vil- 
lenage were detected by the curious so late as the days of the 
Stuarts ; nor has that institution ever, to this hour, been abol- 
ished by statute. 

It would be most unjust not to acknowledge that the chief 
agent in these two great deliverances was religion ; and it may 


perhaps be doubted whether a purer religion might not have 
been found a less efficient agent. The benevolent spirit of the 
Christian morality is undoubtedly adverse to distinctions of 
caste. But to the Church of Rome such distinctions are pecu- 
liarly odious ; for they are incompatible with other distinctions 
which are essential to her system. She ascribes to every priest 
a mysterious dignity which entitles him to the reverence of 
every layman ; and she does not consider any man as disqualified, 
by reason of his nation or of his family, for the priesthood. 
Her doctrines respecting the sacerdotal character, however 
erroneous they may be, have repeatedly mitigated some of 4 the 
worst evils which can afflict society. That superstition cannot 
be regarded as unmixedly noxious which, in regions cursed by 
the tyranny of race over race, creates an aristocracy altogether 
independent of race, inverts the relation between the oppressor 
and the oppressed, and compels the hereditary master to kneel 
before the spiritual tribunal of the hereditary bondman. To 
this day, in some countries where negro slavery exists, Popery 
appears in advantageous contrast to other forms of Christianity. 
It is notorious that the antipathy between the European and 
African races is by no means so strong at Rio Janerio as at 
Washington. In our own country this peculiarity of the Roman 
Catholic system produced, during the middle ages, many salutary 
effects. It is true that, shortly after the battle of Hastings, 
Saxon prelates and abbots were violently deposed, and that 
ecclesiastical adventurers from the Continent were intruded by 
hundreds into lucrative benefices. Yet even then pious divines 
of Norman blood raised their voices against such a violation of 
the constitution of the Church, refused to accept mitres from 
the hands of William, and charged him, on the peril of his soul, 
not to forget that the vanquished islanders were his fellow 
Christians. The first protector whom the English found among 
the dominant caste was Archbishop Anselm. At a time when 
the English name was a reproach, and when all the civil and 
military dignities of the kingdom were supposed to belong 
exclusively to the countrymen of the Conqueror, the despised 
race learned* with transports of delight, that one of themselves, 


Nicholas Breakspear, bad been elevated to the papal throne, 
and had held out his foot to be kissed ; by ambassadors sprung 
from the noblest houses of Normandy. It was a national as 
well as a religious feeling that drew great multitudes to the 
shrine of Becket, whom they regarded as the enemy of their 
enemies. Whether he was a Norman or a Saxon may be 
doubted : but there is no doubt that he perished by Norman 
hands, and that the Saxons cherished his memory with peculiar 
tenderness and veneration, and, in their popular poetry, repre- 
sented him as one of their own race. A successor of Becket 
was foremost among the refractory magnates who obtained that 
charter which secured the privileges both of the Norman barons 
and of the Saxon yeomanry. How great a part the Roman 
Catholic ecclesiastics subsequently had in the abolition of villen- 
age we learn from the unexceptionable testimony of Sir Thomas 
Smith, one of the ablest Protestant counsellors of Elizabeth. 
When the dying slaveholder asked for the last sacraments, his 
spiritual attendants regularly adjured him, as he loved his soul, 
to emancipate his brethren for whom Christ had died. So suc- 
cessfully had the Church used her formidable machinery that, 
before the Reformation came, she had enfranchised almost all 
the bondmen in the kingdom except her own, who, to do her 
justice, seem to have been very tenderly treated. 

There can be no doubt that, when these two great revolu- 
tions had been effected, our forefathers were by far the best 
governed people in Europe. During three hundred years the 
social system had been in a constant course of improvement. 
Under the first Plantagenets there had been barons able to bid 
defiance to the sovereign, and peasants degraded to the level of 
the swine and oxen which they tended. The exorbitant power 
of the baron had been gradually reduced. The condition of the 
peasant had been gradually elevated. Between the aristocracy 
and the working people had sprung up a middle class, agricul- 
tural and commercial. There was still, it may be, more in- 
equality than is favourable to the happiness and virtue of our 
species : but no man was altogether above the restraints of law ; 
and no man was altogether below its protection. 



That the political institutions of England were, at this early 
period, regarded by the English with pride and affection, and 
by the most enlightened men of neighbouring nations with 
admiration and envy, is proved by the clearest evidence. But 
touching the nature of these institutions there has been much 
dishonest and acrimonious controversy. 

The historical literature of England has indeed suffered 
grievously from a circumstance which has not a little contributed 
to her prosperity. The change, great as it is, which her polity 
has undergone during the last six centuries, has been the effect 
of gradual development, not of demolition and reconstruction. 
The present constitution of our country is, to the constitution 
under which she flourished five hundred years ago, what the 
tree is to the sapling, what the man is to the boy. The altera- 
tion has been great. Yet there never was a moment at which 
the chief part of what existed was not old. A polity thus 
formed must abound in anomalies. But for the evils arising 
from mere anomalies we have ample compensation. Other 
societies possess written constitutions more symmetrical. But 
no other society has yet succeeded in uniting revolution with 
prescription, progress with stability, the energy of youth with 
the majesty of immemorial antiquity. 

This great blessing, however, has its drawbacks : and one 
of those drawbacks is that every source of information as to 
our early history has been poisoned by party spirit. As there 
is no country where statesmen have been so much under the 
influence of the past, so there is no country where historians 
have been so much under the influence of the present. Between 
these two things, indeed, there is a natural connection. Where 
history is regarded merely as a picture of life and manners, or 
as a collection of experiments from which general maxims of 
civil wisdom may be drawn, a writer lies under no very pressing 
temptation to misrepresent transactions of ancient date. But 
where history is regarded as a repository of titledeeds, on which 
the rights of governments and nations depend, the motive to falsi- 
fication becomes almost irresistible. A Frenchman is not now 
impelled by any strong interest either to exaggerate or to under- 


rate the power of the Kings of the house of Valois. The 
privileges of the States General, of the States of Britanny, of 
the States of Burgundy, are to him matters of as little practical 
importance as the constitution of the Jewish Sanhedrim or of 
the Amphictyonic Council. The gulph of a great revolution 
completely separates the new from the old system. No such 
chasm divides the existence of the English nation into two 
distinct parts. Our laws and customs have never been lost in 
general and irreparable ruin. With us the precedents of the 
middle ages are still valid precedents, and are still cited, on the 
gravest occasions, by the most eminent statesmen. For example, 
when King George the Third was attacked by the malady 
which made him incapable of performing his regal functions, 
and when the most distinguished lawyers and politicians differed 
widely as to the course which ought, in such circumstances, to 
be pursued, the Houses of Parliament would not proceed to 
discuss any plan of regency till all the precedents which were 
to be found in our annals, from the earliest times, had been 
collected and arranged. Committees were appointed to examine 
the ancient records of the realm. The first case reported was 
that of the year 1217 : much importance was attached to the 
cases of 1326, of 1377, and of 1422 : but the case which was 
justly considered as most in point was that of 1455. Thus in 
our country the dearest interests of parties have frequently been 
staked on the results of the researches of antiquaries. The in- 
evitable consequence was that our antiquaries conducted their 
researches in the spirit of partisans. 

It is therefore not surprising that those who have written, 
concerning the limits of prerogative and liberty in the old polity 
of England should generally have shown the temper, not of 
judges, but of angry and uncandid advocates. For they were 
discussing, not a speculative matter, but a matter which had a 
direct and practical connection with the most momentous and 
exciting disputes of their own day. From the commencement 
of the long contest between the Parliament and the Stuarts 
down to the time when the pretensions of the Stuarts ceased 
to be formidable, few questions were practically more important 


than the question whether the administration of that family had 

or had not been in accordance with the ancient constitution of 
the kingdom. This question could be decided only by reference 
to the records of preceding reigns. Bracton and Fleta, the 
Mirror of Justice and the Rolls of Parliament, were ran- 
sacked to find pretexts for the excesses of the Star Chamber 
on one side, and of the High Court of Justice on the other. 
During a long course of years every Whig historian was anx- 
ious to prove that the old English government was all but 
republican, every Tory historian to prove that it was all but 

With such feelings, both parties looked into the chronicles 
of the middle ages. Both readily found what they sought ; 
and both obstinately refused to see anything but what they 
sought. The champions of the Stuarts could easily point out 
instances of oppression exercised on the subject. The defend- 
ers of the Roundheads could as easily produce instances of 
determined and successful resistance offered to the Crown. 
The Tories quoted, from ancient writings, expressions almost as 
servile as were heard from the pulpit of Mainwaring. The 
Whigs discovered expressions as bold and severe as any that 
resounded from the judgment seat of Bradshaw. One set 
of writers adduced numerous instances in which Kin^s had 
extorted money without the authority of Parliament. Another 
set cited cases in which the Parliament had assumed to it- 
self the power of inflicting punishment on Kings. Those 
who saw only one half of the evidence would have concluded 
that the Plantagenets were as absolute as the Sultans of 
Turkey : those who saw only the other half would have con- 
cluded that the Plantagenets had as little real power as 
the Doges of Venice ; and both conclusions would have been 
equally remote from the truth. 

The old English government was one of a class of limited 
monarchies which sprang up in Western Europe during the 
middle ages, and which, notwithstanding many diversities, bore 
to one another a strong family likeness. That there should 
have been such a likeness is not strange. The countries in 


which those monarchies arose had been provinces of the same 
great civilised empire, and had been overrun and conquered, 
about the same time, by tribes of the same rude and warlike 
nation. They were members of the same great coalition against 
Islam. They were in communion with the same superb and 
ambitious Church. Their polity naturally took the same form. 
They had institutions derived partly from imperial Rome, 
partly from papal Rome, partly from the old Germany. All 
had Kings ; and in all the kingly office became by degrees 
strictly hereditary. All had nobles bearing titles which had 
orginally indicated military rank. The dignity of knighthood, 
the rules of heraldry, were common to all. All had richly 
endowed ecclesiastical establishments, municipal corporations 
enjoying large franchises, and senates whose consent was ne- 
cessary to the validity of some public acts. 

Of these kindred constitutions the English was, from an 
early period, justly reputed the best. The prerogatives of the 
sovereign were undoubtedly extensive. The spirit of religion 
and the spirit of chivalry concurred to exalt his dignity. The 
sacred oil had been poured on his head. It was no disparage- 
ment to the bravest and noblest knights to kneel at his feet. 
His person was inviolable. He alone was entitled to convoke 
the Estates of the realm : he could at his pleasure dismiss 
them ; and his assent was necessary to all their legislative 
acts. He was the chief of the executive administration, the 
sole organ of communication with foreign powers, the captain 
of the military and naval forces of the state, the fountain of 
justice, of mercy, and of honour. He had large powers for the 
regulation of trade. It was by him that money was coined, 
that weights and measures were fixed, that marts and havens 
were appointed. His ecclesiastical patronage was immense. 
His hereditary revenues, economically administered, sufficed to 
meet the ordinary charges of government. His own domains 
were of vast extent. He was also feudal lord paramount of 
the whole soil of his kingdom, and, in that capacity, possessed 
many lucrative and many formidable rights, which enabled him 
to annoy and depress those who thwarted him, and to enrich 



and aggrandise, without any cost to himself, those who enjoyed 
his favour. 

But his power, though ample, was limited by three great 
constitutional principles, so ancient that none can say when 
they began to exist, so potent that their natural development, 
continued through many generations, has produced the order of 
things under which we now live. 

First, the King could not legislate without the consent of 
his Parliament. Secondly, he could impose no tax without the 
consent of his Parliament. Thirdly, he was bound to conduct 
the executive administration according to the laws of the land, 
and, if he broke those laws, his advisers and his agents were 

No candid Tory will deny that these principles had, five 
hundred years ago, acquired the authority of fundamental rules. 
On the other hand, no candid Whig will affirm that they were, 
till a later period, cleared from all ambiguity, or followed out 
to all their consequences. A constitution of the middle ages 
was not, like a constitution of the eighteenth or nineteenth 
century, created entire by a single act, and fully set forth in a 
single document. It is only in a refined and speculative age 
that a polity is constructed on sj^stem. In rude societies the 
progress of government resembles the progress of language and 
of versification. Rude societies have language, and often copious 
and energetic language : but they have no scientific grammar, 
no definitions of nouns and verbs, no names for declensions, 
moods, tenses, and voices. Rude societies have versification, 
and often versification of great power and sweetness : but they 
have no metrical canons ; and the minstrel whose numbers, 
regulated solely by his ear, are the delight of his audience, 
would himself be unable to say of how many dactyls and tro- 
chees each of his lines consists. As eloquence exists before 
syntax, and song before prosody, so government may exist in a 
hi<rh degree of excellence long before the limits of legislative, 
executive, and judicial power have been traced with precision. 

It was thus in our countrj*. The line which bounded the 
royal prerogative, though in general sufficiently clear, had not 


everywhere been drawn with accuracy and distinctness. There 
was, therefore, near the border some debatable ground on which 
incursions and reprisals continued to take place, till, after ages 
of strife, plain and durable landmarks were at length set up. 
It may be instructive to note in what way, and to what extent, 
our ancient sovereigns were in the habit of violating the three 
great principles by which the liberties of the nation were pro- 

No English King has ever laid claim to the general legisla- 
tive power. The most violent and imperious Plantagenet never 
fancied himself competent to enact, without the consent of his 
great council, that a jury should consist of ten persons instead 
of twelve, that a widow's dower should be a fourth part instead 
of a third, that perjury should be a felon}% or that the custom 
of gavelkind should be introduced into Yorkshire.* But the 
King had the power of pardoning offenders ; and there is one 
point at which the power of pardoning and the power of legis- 
lating seem to fade into each other, and may easily, at least in 
a simple age, be confounded. A penal statute is virtually an- 
nulled if the penalties which it imposes are regularly remitted 
as often as they are incurred. The sovereign was undoubtedly 
competent to remit penalties without limit. He was therefore 
competent to annul virtually a penal statute. It might seem 
that there could be no serious objection to his doing formally 
what he might do virtually. Thus, with the help of subtle and 
courtly lawyers, grew up, on the doubtful frontier which sepa- 
rates executive from legislative functions, that great anomaly 
known as the dispensing power. 

That the King could not impose taxes without the consent 
of Parliament is admitted to have been, from time immemorial, 
a fundamental law of England. It was among the articles 
which John was compelled by the Barons to sign. Edward the 
First ventured to break through the rule : but, able, powerful, 
and popular as he was, he encountered an opposition to which 
he found it expedient to yield. He covenanted accordingly in 

* This is excellently put by Mr. Hallani in the first chapter of his Constitu- 
tional History. 


express terms, for himself and his heirs, that they would never 
again levy any aid without the assent and goodwill of the 
Estates of the realm. His powerful and victorious grandson 
attempted to violate this solemn compact : but the attempt was 
strenuously withstood. At length the Plantagenets gave up 
the point in despair : but, though they ceased to infringe the 
law openly, they occasionally contrived, by evading it, to pro- 
cure an extraordinary supply for a temporary purpose. They 
were interdicted from taxing ; but they claimed the right of 
begging and borrowing. They therefore sometimes begged in 
a tone not easily to be distinguished from that of command, and 
sometimes borrowed with small thought of repaying. But the 
fact that they thought it necessary to disguise their exactions 
under the names of benevolences and loans sufficiently proves 
that the authority of the great constitutional rule was univer- 
sally recognised. 

The principle that the King of England was bound to con- 
duct the administration according to law, and that, if he did 
anything against law, his advisers and agents were answerable, 
was established at a very early period, as the severe judgments 
pronounced and executed on many royal favourites sufficiently 
prove. It is, however, certain that the rights of individuals 
were often violated by the Plantagenets, and that the injured 
parties were often unable to obtain redress. According to law 
no Englishman could be arrested or detained in confinement 
merely by the mandate of the sovereign. In fact, persons 
obnoxious to the government were frequently imprisoned with- 
out any other authority than a royal order. According to law, 
torture, the disgrace of the Roman jurisprudence, could not, in 
any circumstances, be inflicted on an English subject. Never- 
theless, during the troubles of the fifteenth century, a rack was 
introduced into the Tower, and was occasionally used under the 
plea of political necessity. But it would be a great error to 
infer from such irregularities that the English monarchs were, 
either in theory or in practice, absolute. We live in a highly 
civilised society, through which intelligence is so rapidly dif- 
fused by means of the press and of the post office that any 


gross act of oppression committed in any part of our island is, 
in a few hours, discussed by millions. If the sovereign were 
now to immure a subject in defiance of the writ of Habeas 
Corpus, or to put a conspirator to the torture, the whole nation 
'would be instantly electrified by the news. In the middle ages 
the state of society was widely different. Rarely and with 
great difficulty did the wrongs of individuals come to the knowl- 
edge of the public. A man might be illegally confined during 
many months in the castle of Carlisle or Norwich ; and no 
whisper of the transaction might reach London. It is highly 
probable that the rack had been many years in use before the 
great majority of the nation had the least suspicion that it was 
ever employed. Nor were our ancestors by any means so much 
alive as we are to the importance of maintaining great general 
rules. We have been taught by long experience that we can- 
not without danger suffer any breach of the constitution to pass 
unnoticed. It is therefore now universally held that a govern- 
ment which unnecessarily exceeds its powers ought to be visited 
with severe parliamentary censure, and that a government which, 
under the pressure of a great exigency, and with pure intentions, 
has exceeded its powers, ought without delay to apply to Par- 
liament for an act of indemnity. But such were not the feelings 
of the Englishmen of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
They were little disposed to contend for a principle merely as a 
principle, or to cry out against an irregularity which was not 
also felt to be a grievance. As long as the general spirit of the 
administration was mild and popular, they were willing to allow 
some latitude to their sovereign. If, for ends generally ac- 
knowledged to be good, he exerted a vigour beyond the law, 
they not only forgave, but applauded him, and while they en- 
joyed security and prosperity under his rule, were but too ready 
to believe that whoever had incurred his displeasure had de- 
served it. But to this indulgence there was a limit ; nor was 
that King wise who presumed far on the forbearance of the 
English people. They might sometimes allow him to overstep 
the constitutional line : but they also claimed the privilege of 
overstepping that line themselves, whenever his encroachments 


were so serious as to excite alarm. If, not content with occa- 
sionally oppressing individuals, he dared to oppress great masses, 
his subjects promptly appealed to the laws, and, that appeal 
failing, appealed as promptly to the God of battles. 

Our forefathers might indeed safely tolerate a king in a few 
excesses ; for they had in reserve a check which soon brought 
the fiercest and proudest king to reason, the check of physical 
force. It is difficult for an Englishman of the nineteenth cen- 
tury to imagine to himself the facility and rapidity with which, 
four hundred years ago, this check was applied. The people 
have long unlearned the use of arms. The art of war has been 
carried to a perfection unknown to former ages ; and the knowl- 
edge of that art is confined to a particular class. A hundred 
thousand soldiers, well disciplined and commanded, will keep 
down ten millions of ploughmen and artisans. A few regiments 
of household troops are sufficient to overawe all the discontented 
spirits of a large capital. In the meantime the effect of the 
constant progress of wealth has been to make insurrection far 
more terrible to thinking men than maladministration. Immense 
sums have been expended on works which, if a rebellion broke 
out, might perish in a few hours. The mass of movable wealth 
collected in the shops and warehouses of London alone exceeds 
five hundredfold that which the whole island contained in the 
days of the Plantagenets ; and, if the government were subvert- 
ed by physical force, all this movable wealth would be exposed 
to imminent risk of spoliation and destruction. Still greater 
would be the risk to public credit, on which thousands of families 
directly depend for subsistence, and with which the credit of the 
whole commercial world is inseparably connected. It is no ex- 
aggeration to sav that a civil war of a week on English ground 
would now produce disasters which would be felt from the Hoang- 
ho to the Missouri, and of which the traces would be discernible 
at the distance of a century. In such a state of society resist- 
ance must be regarded as a cure more desperate than almost 
any malady which can afflict the state. In the middle ages, on 
the contrary, resistance was an ordinary remedy for political 
distempers, a remedy which was always at hand, and which, 


though doubtless sharp at the moment, produced no deep or 
lasting ill effects. If a popular chief raised his standard in a 
popular cause, an irregular army could be assembled in a day. 
Regular army there was none. Every man had a slight tincture 
of soldiership, and scarcely any man more than a slight tincture. 
The national wealth consisted chiefly in flocks and herds, in the 
harvest of the year, and in the simple buildings inhabited by 
the people. All the furniture, the stock of shops, the machin- 
ery which could be found in the realm was of less value than 
the property which some single parishes now contain. Man- 
ufactures were rude; credit was almost unknown. Society, 
therefore, recovered from the shock as soon as the actual conflict 
was over. The calamities of civil war were confined to the 
slaughter on the field of battle, and to a few subsequent execu- 
tions and confiscations. In a week the peasant was driving his 
team and the esquire flying his hawks over the field of Towton 
or of Bosworth, as if no extraordinary event had interrupted 
the regular course of human life. 

More than a hundred and sixty years have now elapsed since 
the English people have by force subverted a government. 
During the hundred and sixty years which preceded the union 
of the Roses, nine Kings reigned in England. Six of these 
nine Kings were deposed. Five lost their lives as well as their 
crowns. It is evident, therefore, that any comparison between 
our ancient and our modern polity must lead to most erroneous 
conclusions, unless large allowance be made for the effect of 
that restraint which resistance and the fear of resistance con- 
stantly imposed on the Plantagenets. As our ancestors had 
against tyranny a most important security which we want, they 
might safely dispense with some securities to which we justly 
attach the highest importance. As we cannot, without the risk 
of evils from which the imagination recoils, employ physical 
force as a check on misgovernment, it is evidently our wisdom 
to keep all the constitutional checks on misgovernment in the 
highest state of efficiency, to watch with jealousy the first be- 
ginnings of encroachment, and never to suffer irregularities, 
even when harmless in themselves, to pass unchallenged, lest 


they acquire the force of precedents. Four hundred years ago 
such minute vigilance might well seem unnecessary. A nation 
of hardy archers and spearmen might, with small risk to its lib- 
erties, connive at some illegal acts on the part of a prince whose 
general administration was good, and whose throne was not de- 
fended by a single company of regular soldiers. 

Under this system, rude as it may appear when compared 
with those elaborate constitutions of which the last seventy 
years have been fruitful, the English long enjoyed a large 
measure of freedom and happiness. Though, during the feeble 
reign of Henry the Sixth, the state was torn, first by factions, 
and at length by civil war ; though Edward the Fourth was a 
prince of dissolute and imperious character ; though Richard 
the Third has generally been represented as a monster of de- 
pravity ; though the exactions of Henry the Seventh caused 
great repining ; it is certain that our ancestors, under those 
Kings, were far better governed than the Belgians under 
Philip, surnamed the Good, or the French under that Lewis 
who was styled the Father of his people. Even while the 
wars of the Roses were actually raging, our country appears to 
have been in a happier condition than the neighbouring realms 
during years of profound peace. Comines was one of the most 
enlightened statesmen of his time. He had seen all the richest 
and most highly civilised parts of the Continent. He had lived 
in the opulent towns of Flanders, the Manchesters and Liver- 
pools of the fifteenth century. He had visited Florence, recently 
adorned by the magnificence of Lorenzo, and Venice, not yet 
humbled by the Confederates of Cambray. This eminent man 
deliberate^ pronounced England to be the best governed country 
of which he had any knowledge. Her constitution he emphat- 
ically designated as a just and holy thing, which, while it pro- 
tected the people, really strengthened the hands of a prince who 
respected it. In no other country were men so effectually 
secured from wrong. The calamities produced by our intestine 
wars seemed to him to be confined to the nobles and the fighting 
men, and to leave no traces such as he had been accustomed 
to sec elsewhere, no ruined dwellings, no depopulated cities. 


It was not only by the efficiency of the restraints imposed on 
the royal prerogative that England was advantageously distin- 
guished from most of the neighbouring countries. A peculiarity 
equally important, though less noticed, was the relation in 
which the nobility stood here to the commonalty. There was a 
strong hereditary aristocracy : but it was of all hereditary aris- 
tocracies the least insolent and exclusive. It had none of the 
invidious character of a caste. It was constantly receiving 
members from the people, and constantly sending down mem- 
bers to mingle with the people. Any gentleman might become 
a peer. The younger son of a peer was but a gentleman. 
Grandsons of peers yielded precedence to newly made knights. 
The dignity of knighthood was not beyond the reach of any man 
who could by diligence and thrift realise a good estate, or who 
could attract notice by his valour in a battle or a siege. It was 
regarded as no disparagement for the daughter of a Duke, nay 
of a royal Duke, to espouse a distinguished commoner. Thus, 
Sir John Howard married the daughter of Thomas Mowbray 
Duke of Norfolk. Sir Richard Pole married the Countess of 
Salisbury, daughter of George Duke of Clarence. Good blood 
was indeed held in high respect: but between good blood and 
the privileges of peerage there was, most fortunately for our 
country, no necessary connection. Pedigrees as long, and 
scutcheons as old, were to be found out of the House of Lords 
as in it. There were new men who bore the highest titles. 
There were untitled men well known to be descended from knights 
who had broken the Saxon ranks at Hastings, and scaled the 
walls of Jerusalem. There were Bohuns, Mowbrays, De Veres, 
nay, kinsmen of the House of Plantagenet, with no higher ad- 
dition than that of Esquire, and with no civil privileges beyond 
those enjoyed by every farmer and shopkeeper. There was 
therefore here no line like that which in some other countries 
divided the patrician from the plebeian. The } r eoman was not 
inclined to murmur at dignities to which his own children might 
rise. The grandee was not inclined to insult a class into which 
his own children must descend. 

After the wars of York and Lancaster, the links which con- 


nected the nobility and commonalty became closer and more 
numerous than ever. The extent of destruction which had fallen 
on the old aristocracy may be inferred from a single circum- 
stance. In the year 1451 Henry the Sixth summoned fifty-three 
temporal Lords to parliament. The temporal Lords summoned 
h? Henry the Seventh to the parliament of 1485 were only 
twenty -nine, and of these several had recently been elevated to 
the peerage. During the following century the ranks of the no- 
bility were largely recruited from among the gentry. The con- 
stitution of the House of Commons tended greatly to promote 
the salutary intermixture of classes. The knight of the shire 
was the connecting link between the baron and the shopkeeper. 
On the same benches on which sate the goldsmiths, drapers, and 
grocers, who had been returned to parliament by the commercial 
towns, sate also members who, in any other country, would have 
been called noblemen, hereditary lords of manors, entitled to 
hold courts and to bear coat armour, and able to trace back an 
honourable descent through many generations. Some of them 
were younger sons and brothers of lords. Others could boast 
of even royal blood. At length the eldest son of an Earl of 
Bedford, called in courtesy by the second title of his father, 
offered himself as candidate for a seat in the House of Com- 
mons, and his example was followed by others. Seated in that 
house, the heirs of the great peers naturally became as zealous 
for its privileges as any of the humble burgesses with whom 
they were mingled. Thus our democracy was, from an early 
period, the most aristocratic, and our aristocracy the most dem- 
ocratic in the world ; a peculiarity which has lasted down to the 
present day, and which has produced many important moral and 
.political effects. 

The government of Henry the Seventh, of his son, and of 
his grandchildren was, on the whole, more arbitrary than that 
of the Plantagenets. Personal character may in some degree 
explain the difference ; for courage and force of will were com- 
mon to all the men and women of the House of Tudor. They 
exercised their power during a period of a hundred and twenty 
years, always with vigour, often with violence, sometimes with 


cruelty. They, in imitation of the dynasty which had preceded 
them, occasionally invaded the rights of the subject, occasionally 
exacted taxes under the name of loans and gifts, and occasionally 
dispensed with penal statutes : nay, though they never presumed 
to enact any permanent law by their own authority, they occa- 
sionally took upon themselves, when Parliament was not sitting, 
to meet temporary exigencies by temporary edicts. It was, 
however, impossible for the Tudors to carry oppression beyond 
a certain point : for they had no armed force, and they were 
surrounded by an armed people. Their palace was guarded by 
a few domestics, whom the array of a single shire, or of a single 
ward of London, could with ease have overpowered. These 
haughty princes were therefore under a restraint stronger 
than any that mere law can impose, under a restraint 
which did not, indeed, prevent them from sometimes treat- 
ing an individual in an arbitrary and even in a barbarous 
manner, but which effectually secured the nation against general 
and long continued oppression. They might safely be tyrants, 
within the precinct of the court : but it was necessary for them 
to watch with constant anxiety the temper of the country. 
Henry the Eighth, for example, encountered no opposition when 
he wished to send Buckingham and Surrey, Anne Boleyn and 
Lady Salisbury, to the scaffold. But when, without the consent 
of Parliament, he demanded of his subjects a contribution amount- 
ing to one sixth of their goods, he soon found it necessary to 
retract. The cry of hundreds of thousands was that they were 
English and not French, freemen and not slaves. In Kent the 
royal commissioners fled for their lives. In Suffolk four thou- 
sand men appeared in arms. The King's lieutenants in that 
county vainly exerted themselves to raise an army. Those 
who did not join in the insurrection declared that they would 
not fight against their brethren in such a quarrel. Henry, proud 
and selfwilled as he was, shrank, not without reason, from a 
conflict with the roused spirit of the nation. He had before his 
eyes th'e fate of his predecessors who had perished at Berkeley 
and Pomfret. He not only cancelled his illegal commissions ; 
he not only granted a general pardon to all the malecontents ; 


but he publicly and solemnly apologised for his infraction of the 

His conduct, on this occasion, well illustrates the whole policy 
of his house. The temper of the princes of that line was hot, 
and their spirits high, but they understood the character of the 
nation that they governed, and never once, like some of their 
predecessors, and some of their successors, carried obstinacy to 
a fatal point. The discretion of the Tudors was such, that their 
power, though it was often resisted, was nev er subverted. The 
reign of every one of them was disturbed by formidable discon- 
tents : but the government was always able either to soothe the 
mutineers or to conquer and punish them. Sometimes, by timely 
concessions, it succeeded in averting civil hostilities ; but in gene- 
ral it stood firm, and called for help on the nation. The nation 
obeyed the call, rallied round the sovereign, and enabled him to 
quell the disaffected minority. 

Thus, from the age of Henry the Third to the age of Eliza- 
beth, England grew and flourished under a polity which con- 
tained the germ of our present institutions, and which, though not 
very exactly defined, or very exactly observed, was yet effec- 
tually prevented from degenerating into despotism, by the awe in 
which the governors stood of the spirit and strength of the 

But such a polity is suited only to a particular stage in the 
progress of society. The same causes which produce a division 
of labour in the peaceful arts must at length make war a dis- 
tinct science and a distinct trade. A time arrives when the use 
of arms begins to occupy the entire attention of a separate class. 
It soon appears that peasants and burghers, however brave, are 
unable to stand their ground against veteran soldiers, whose 
whole life is a preparation for the day of battle, whose nerves 
have been braced by long familiarity with danger, and whose 
movements have all the precision of clockwork. It is found 
that the defence of nations can no longer be safely entrusted to 
warriors taken from the plough or the loom for a campaign of 
forty days. If any state forms a great regular army, the bor- 
dering states must imitate the example, or must submit to a for- 


eign yoke. But, where a great regular army exists, limited 
monarchy, such as it was in the middle ages, can exist no longer. 
The sovereign is at once emancipated from what had been the 
chief restraint on his power ; and he inevitably becomes abso- 
lute, unless he is subjected to checks such as would be super- 
fluous in a society where all are soldiers occasionally, and none 

With the danger came also the means of escape. In the 
monarchies of the middle ages the power of the sword belonged 
to the prince ; but the power of the purse belonged to the 
nation ; and the progress of civilisation, as it made the sword 
of the prince more and more formidable to the nation, made the 
purse of the nation more and more necessary to the prince. His 
hereditary revenues would no longer suffice, even for the ex- 
penses of civil government. It was utterly impossible that, 
without a regular and extensive system of taxation, he could 
keep in constant efficiency a great body of disciplined troops. 
The policy which the parliamentary assemblies of Europe ought 
to have adopted was to take their stand firmly on their consti- 
tutional right to give or withhold money, and resolutely to 
refuse funds for the support of armies, till ample securities had 
been provided against despotism. 

This wise policy was followed in our country alone. In 
the neighbouring kingdoms great military establishments were 
formed ; no new safeguards for public liberty were devised ; 
and the consequence was, that the old parliamentary institutions 
everywhere ceased to exist. In France, where they had always 
been feeble, they languished, and at length died of mere weak- 
ness. In Spain, where they had been as strong as in any part 
of Europe, they struggled fiercely for life, but struggled too 
late. The mechanics of Toledo and Valladolid vainly defended 
the privileges of the Castilian Cortes against the veteran bat- 
talions of Charles the Fifth. As vainly, in the next genera- 
tion, did the citizens of Saragossa stand up against Philip the 
Second, for the old constitution of Aragon. One after another, 
the great national councils of the continental monarchies, 

councils once scarcely less proud and powerful than those which 



sate at Westminster, sank into utter insignificance. If they 
met, they met merely as our Convocation now meets, to go 
through some venerable forms. 

In England events took a different course. This singular 
felicity she owed chiefly to her insular situation. Before the 
end of the fifteenth century great military establishments were 
indispensable to the dignity, and even to the safety, of the 
French and Castilian monarchies. If either of those two powers 
had disarmed, it would soon have been compelled to submit to 
the dictation of the other. But England, protected by the sea 
against invasion, and rarely engaged in warlike operations on 
the Continent, was not, as yet, under the necessity of employing 
regular troops. The sixteenth century, the seventeenth century, 
found her still without a standing army.. At the commence- 
ment of the seventeenth century political science had made con- 
siderable progress. The fate of the Spanish Cortes and of the 
French States General had given solemn warning to our Par- 
liaments ; and our Parliaments, fully aware of the nature and 
magnitude of the danger, adopted, in good time, a system of tac- 
tics which, after a contest protracted through three generations, 
was at length successful. 

Almost every writer who has treated of that contest has 
been desirous to show that his own party was the party which 
was struggling to preserve the old constitution unaltered. The 
truth however is that the old constitution could not be preserved 
unaltered. A law, beyond the control of human wisdom, had 
decreed that there should no longer be governments of that 
peculiar class which, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, 
had been common throughout Europe. The question, therefore, 
was not whether our polity should undergo a change, but what 
the nature of the change should be. The introduction of a new 
and mighty force had disturbed the old equilibrium, and had 
turned one limited monarchy after another into an absolute 
monarchy. What had happened elsewhere would assuredly 
have happened here, unless the balance had been redressed by 
a great transfer of power from the crown to the parliament. 
Our princes were about to have at their command means of 


coercion such as no Plantagenet or Tudor had ever possessed. 
They must inevitably have become despots, unless they had 
been, at the same time, placed under restraints to which no 
Plantagenet or Tudor had ever been subject. 

It seems certain, therefore, that, had none but political 
causes been at work, the seventeenth century would not have 
passed away without a fierce conflict between our Kings and 
their Parliaments. But other causes of perhaps greater potency 
contributed to produce the same effect. While the government 
of the Tudors was in its highest vigour an event took place 
which has coloured the destinies of all Christian nations, and in 
an especial manner the destinies of England. Twice during 
the middle ages the mind of Europe had risen up against the 
domination of Rome. The first insurrection broke out in the 
south of France. The energy of Innocent the Third, the zeal 
of the young orders of Francis and Dominic, and the ferocity 
of the Crusaders whom the priesthood let loose on an unwarlike 
population, crushed the Albigensian churches. The second 
reformation had its origin in England, and spread to Bohemia. 
The Council of Constance, by removing some ecclesiastical dis- 
orders which had given scandal to Christendom, and the princes 
of Europe, by unsparingly using fire and sword against the 
heretics, succeeded in arresting and turning back the movement. 
Nor is this much to be lamented. The sympathies of a Protes- 
tant, it is true, will naturally be on the side of the Albigensians 
and of the Lollards. Yet an enlightened and temperate Protes- 
tant will perhaps be disposed to doubt whether the success, 
either of the Albigensians or of the Lollards, would, on the 
whole, have promoted the happiness and virtue of mankind. 
Corrupt as the Church of Rome was, there is reason to believe 
that, if that Church had been overthrown in the twelfth or even 
in the fourteenth century, the vacant space would have been 
occupied by some system more corrupt still. There was then, 
through the greater part of Europe, very little knowledge ; and 
that little was confined to the clergy. Not one man in five 
hundred could have spelled his way through a psalm. Books 
were few and costly. The art of printing was unknown. 


Copies of the Bible, inferior in beauty and clearness to those 
which every cottager may now command, sold for prices which 
many priests could not afford to give. It was obviously impos- 
sible that the laity should search the Scriptures for themselves. 
It is probable therefore, that, as soon as they had put off one 
spiritual yoke, they would have put on another, and that the 
power lately exercised by the clergy of the Church of Rome 
would have passed to a far worse class of teachers. The six- 
teenth century was comparatively a time of light. Yet even in 
the sixteenth century a considerable number of those who 
quitted the old religion followed the first confident and plausible 
guide who offered himself, and were soon led into errors far 
more serious than those which they had renounced. Thus Mat- 
thias and Kniperdoling, apostles of lust, robbery, and murder, 
were able for a time to rule great cities. In a darker age such 
false prophets might have founded empires ; and Christianity 
might have been distorted into a cruel and licentious supersti- 
tion, more noxious, not only than Popery, but even than Islamism. 

About a hundred years after the rising of the Council of 
Constance, that great change emphatically called the Reforma- 
tion began. The fulness of time was now come. The clergy 
were no longer the sole or the chief depositories of knowledge. 
The invention of printing had furnished the assailants of the 
Church with a mighty weapon which had been wanting to their 
predecessors. The study of the ancient writers, the rapid de- 
velopment of the powers of the modern languages, the unprece- 
dented activity which was displayed in every department of 
literature, the political state of Europe, the vices of the Roman 
court, the exactions of the Roman chancery, the jealousy with 
which the wealth and privileges of the clergy were naturally 
regarded by laymen, the jealousy with which the Italian ascend- 
ency was naturally regarded by men born on our side of the 
Alps, all these things gave to the teachers of the new theology 
an advantage which they perfectly understood how to use. 

Those who hold that the influence of the Church of Rome 
in the dark ages was, on the "whole, beneficial to mankind, may 
yet with perfect consistency regard the Reformation as an 


inestimable blessing. The leading strings, which preserve and 
uphold the infant, would impede the fullgrown man. And so 
the very means by which the human mind is, in one stage of 
its progress, supported and propelled, may, in another stage, be 
mere hindrances. There is a season in the life both of an 
individual and of a society, at which submission and faith, such 
as at a later period would be justly called servility and credulity, 
are useful qualities. The child who teachably and undoubtingly 
listens to the instructions of his elders is likely to improve 
rapidly. But the man who should receive with childlike docility 
every assertion and dogma uttered by another man no wiser 
than himself would become contemptible. It is the same with 
communities. The childhood of the European nations was 
passed under the tutelage of the clergy. The ascendency of 
the sacerdotal order was long the ascendency which naturally 
and properly belongs to intellectual superiority. The priests, 
with all their faults, were by far the wisest portion of society. 
It was, therefore, on the whole, good that they should be re- 
spected and obeyed. The encroachments of the ecclesiastical 
power on the province of the civil power produced much more 
happiness than misery, while the ecclesiastical power was in 
the hands of the only class that had studied history, philosophy, 
and public law, and while the civil power was in the hands of 
savage chiefs, who could not read their own grants and edicts. 
But a change took place. Knowledge gradually spread among 
laymen. At the commencement of the sixteenth century many 
of them were in every intellectual attainment fully equal to the 
most enlightened of their spiritual pastors. Thenceforward 
that dominion, which, during the dark ages, had been, in spite 
of many abuses, a legitimate and salutary guardianship, became 
an unjust and noxious tyranny. 

From the time when the barbarians overran the Western 
Empire to the time of the revival of letters, the influence of the 
Church of Rome had been generally favourable to science, to 
civilisation, and to good government. But, during the last 
three centuries, to stunt the growth of the human mind has 
been her chief object. Throughout Christendom, whatever ad- 


vance has been made in knowledge, in freedom, in wealth, and 
in the arts of life, has been made in spite of her, and has every- 
where been hi inverse proportion to her power. The loveliest 
and most fertile provinces of Europe have, under her rule, been 
sunk in poverty, in political servitude, and in intellectual tor- 
por, while Protestant countries, once proverbial for sterility 
and barbarism, have been turned by skill and industry into 
gardens, and can boast of a long list of heroes and statesmen, 
philosophers and poets. Whoever, knowing what Italy and 
Scotland naturally are, and what, four hundred j^ears ago, they 
actually were, shall now compare the country round Rome with 
the country round Edinburgh, will be able to form some judg- 
ment as to the tendency of Papal domination. The descent of 
Spain, once the first among monarchies, to the lowest depths of 
degradation, the elevation of Holland, in spite of many natural 
disadvantages, to a position such as no commonwealth so small 
has ever reached, teach the same lesson. Whoever passes in 
Germany from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant principality, 
in Switzerland from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant canton, 
in Ireland from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant county, finds 
that he has passed from a lower to a higher grade of civilisation. 
On the other side of the Atlantic the same law prevails. The 
Protestants of the United States have left far behind them the 
Roman Catholics of Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. The Roman 
Catholics of Lower Canada remain inert, while the whole con- 
tinent round them is in a ferment with Protestant activity and 
enterprise. The French have doubtless shown an energy and 
an intelligence which, even when misdirected, have justly en- 
titled them to be called a great people. But this apparent 
exception, when examined, will be found to confirm the rule ; 
for in no country that is called Roman Catholic, has the Roman 
Catholic Church, during several generations, possessed so little 
authority as in France. The literature of France is justly held 
in high esteem throughout the world. But if we deduct from that 
literature all that belongs to four parties which have been, on 
different grounds, in rebellion against the Papal domination, all 
that belongs to the Protestants, all that belongs to the assert- 


ors of the Gallican liberties, all that belongs to the Jansenists, 
and all that belongs to the philosophers, how much will be left ? 

It is difficult to say whether England owes more to the 
Roman Catholic religion or to the Reformation. For the amal- 
gamation of races and for the abolition of villenagc, she is 
chiefly indebted to the influence which the priesthood in the 
middle ages exercised over the laity. For political and intel- 
lectual freedom, and for all the blessings which political and 
intellectual freedom have brought in their train, she is chief! y 
indebted to the great rebellion of the laity against the priest- 

The struggle between the old and the new theology in our 
country was long, and the event sometimes seemed doubtful. 
There were two extreme parties, prepared to act with violence 
or to suffer with stubborn resolution. Between them lay, dur- 
ing a considerable time, a middle party, which blended, very 
illogically, but by no means unnaturally, lessons learned in the 
nursery with the sermons of the modern evangelists, and, while 
clinging with fondness to all observances, yet detested abuses 
with which those observances were closely connected. Men in 
such a frame of mind were willing to obey, almost with thank- 
fulness, the dictation of an able ruler who spared them the 
trouble of judging for themselves, and, raising a firm and com- 
manding voice above the uproar of controversy, told them how 
to worship and what to believe. It is not strange, therefore, 
that the Tudors should have been able to exercise a great in- 
fluence on ecclesiastical affairs ; nor is it strange that their in- 
fluence should, for the most part, have been exercised with a 
view to their own interest. 

Henry the Eighth attempted to constitute an Anglican 
Church differing irom the Roman Catholic Church on the point 
of the supremacy, and on that point alone. His success in this 
attempt was extraordinarjr. The force of his character, the 
singularly favourable situation in which he stood with respect to 
foreign powers, the immense wealth whicji the spoliation of the 
abbeys placed at his disposal, and tjie support of that class which 
still halted between two opinions, enabled him to bid defiance to 


both the extreme parties, to burn as heretics those who avowed 
the tenets of the Reformers, and to hang as traitors those who 
owned the authority of the Pope. But Henry's system died 
with him. Had his life been prolonged, he would have found it 
difficult to maintain a position assailed with equal fury by all 
who were zealous either for the new or for the old opinions. 
The ministers who held the royal prerogatives in trust for his 
infant son could not venture to persist in so hazardous a policy; 
nor could Elizabeth venture to return to it. It was necessary 
to make a choice. The government must either submit to Rome, 
or must obtain the aid of the Protestants. The government 
and the Protestants had only one thing in common, hatred of 
the Papal power. The English Reformers were eager to go 
as far as their brethren on the Continent. They unanimouslv 
condemned as Antichristian numerous dogmas and practices to 
which Henry had stubbornly adhered, and which Elizabeth re- 
luctantly abandoned. Many felt a strong repugnance even to 
things indifferent which had formed part of the polity or ritual 
of the mystical Babylon. Thus Bishop Hooper, who died man- 
fully at Gloucester for his religion, long refused to wear the 
episcopal vestments. x Bishop Ridley, a martyr of still greater 
renown, pulled down the ancient altars of his diocese, and order- 
ed the Eucharist to be administered in the middle of churches, 
at tables which the Papists irreverently termed oyster boards. 
Bishop Jewel pronounced the clerical garb to be a stage dress, 
a fool's coat, a relique of the Amorites, and promised that he 
would spare no labour to extirpate such degrading absurdities. 
Archbishop Grindal long hesitated about accepting a mitre from 
dislike of what he regarded as the mummery of consecration. 
Bishop Parkhurst uttered a fervent prayer that the Church of 
England would propose to herself the Church of Zurich as the 
absolute pattern of a Christian community. Bishop Ponet was 
of opinion that the word Bishop should be abandoned to the 
Papists, and that the chief officers of the purified church should 
be called Superintendents. When it is considered that none of 
these prelates belonged to the extreme section of the Protestant 
party, it cannot be doubted that, if the general sense of that, 


party had been followed, the work of reform would have been 
carried on as unsparingly in England as in Scotland. 

But, as the government needed the support of the Protes- 
tants, so the Protestants needed the protection of the government. 
Much was therefore given up on both sides : an union was 
i»eifected ; and the fruit of that union was the Church of England. 

To the peculiarities of this great institution, and to the strong 
passions which it has called forth in the minds both of friends 
and of enemies, are to be attributed many of the most impor- 
tant events which have, since the Reformation, taken place in 
our country ; nor can the secular history of England be at all 
understood by us, unless we study it in constant connection with 
the history of her ecclesiastical polity. 

The man who took the chief part in settling the conditions- 
of the alliance which produced the Anglican Church was Arch- 
bishop Cranmer. He was the representative of both the parties 
which, at that time, needed each other's assistance. He was at 
once a divine and a courtier. In his character of divine he was 
perfectly ready to go as far in the way of change as any Swiss 
or Scottish Reformer. In his character of courtier he was de- 
sirous to preserve that organisation which had, during many 
ages, admirably served the purposes of the Bishops of Rome, 
and mi^ht be expected now to serve equally well the purposes 
of the English Kings and of their ministers. His temper and 
' his understanding eminently fitted him to act as mediator. 
Saintly in his professions, unscrupulous in his dealings, zealous 
for nothing, bold in speculation, a coward and a timeserver in 
action, a placable enemy and a lukewarm friend, he was in every 
way qualified to arrange the terms of the coalition between the 
religious and the worldly enemies of Popery. 

To this day the constitution, the doctrines, and the services 
of the Church, retain the visible marks of the compromise from 
which she sprang. She occupies a middle position between the 
Churches of Rome and Geneva. Her doctrinal confessions and 
discourses, composed by Protestants, set forth principles of 
theology in which Calvin or Knox would have found scarcely a 
word to disapprove. Her prayers and thanksgivings, derived 


from the ancient Breviaries, are very generally such that 
Cardinal Fisher or Cardinal Pole might have heartily joined in 
tliem. A controversialist who puts an Arminian sense on her 
Articles and Homilies will be pronounced by candid men to be as 
unreasonable as a controversialist who denies that the doctrine 
of baptismal regeneration can be discovered in her Liturgy. 

The Church of Rome held that episcopacy was of divine 
institution, and that certain supernatural graces of a high order 
had been transmitted by the imposition of hands through fifty 
generations, from the Eleven who received their commission on 
the Galilean mount, to the bishops who met at Trent. A large 
body of Protestants, on the other hand, regarded prelacy as 
positively unlawful, and persuaded themselves that they found 
a very different form of ecclesiastical government prescribed in 
Scripture. The founders of the Anglican Church took a middle 
course. They retained episcopacy ; but they did not declare it 
to be an institution essential to the welfare of a Christian society, 
or to the efficacy of the sacraments. Cranmer, indeed, on one im- 
portant occasion, plainly avowed his conviction that, in the prim- 
itive times, there was no distinction between bishops and priests, 
and that the laying on of hands was altogether superfluous. 

Among the Presbyterians the conduct of public worship is, 
to a great extent, left to the minister. Their prayers, there- 
fore, are not exactly the same in any two assemblies on the 
same dav, or on any two days in the same assembly. In one 
parish they are fervent, eloquent, and full of meaning. In the 
next parish they may be languid or absurd. The priests of the 
Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, have, during many 
generations, daily chaunted the same ancient confessions, sup- 
plications, and thanksgivings, in India and Lithuania, in Ireland 
and Peru. The service, being in a dead language, is intelligible 
only to the learned ; and the great majority of the congregation 
may be said to assist as spectators rather than as auditors. 
Ilsre, again, the Church of England took a middle course. She 
copied the Roman Catholic forms of prayer, but translated them 
into the vulgar tongue, and invited the illiterate multitude to 
join its voice to that of the minister. 


In every part of her system the same policy may be traced. 
Utterly rejecting the doctrine of tran substantiation, and con- 
demning as idolatrous all adoration paid to the sacramental bread 
and wine, she yet, to the disgust of the Puritan, required her 
children to receive the memorials of divine love, meekly kneeling 
upon their knees. Discarding many rich vestments which sur- 
rounded the altars of the ancient faith, she yet retained, to the 
horror of weak minds, a robe of white linen, typical of the 
purity which belonged to her as the mystical spouse of Christ. 
Discarding a crowd of pantomimic gestures which, in the Roman 
Catholic worship, are substituted for intelligible words, she yet 
shocked many rigid Protestants by marking the infant just 
sprinkled from the font with the sign of the cross. The 
Roman Catholic addressed his prayers to a multitude of Saints, 
among whom were numbered many men of doubtful, and some 
of hateful, character. The Puritan refused the addition of Saint 
even to the apostle of the Gentiles, and to the disciple whom 
Jesus loved. The Church of England, though she asked for 
the intercession of no created being, still set apart days for the 
commemoration of some who had done and suffered great things 
for the faith. She retained confirmation and ordination as 
edifying rites ; but she degraded them from the rank of sacra- 
ments. Shrift was no part of her system. Yet she gently 
invited the dying penitent to confess his sins to a divine, and 
empowered her ministers to soothe the departing soul by an 
absolution which breathes the very spirit of the old religion. In 
general it may be said that she appeals more to the understand- 
ing, and less to the senses and the imagination, than the Church 
of Rome, and that she appeals less to the understanding, and 
more to the senses and imagination, than the Protestant 
Churches of Scotland, France, and Switzerland. 

Nothing, however, so strongly distinguished the Church of 
England from other Churches as the relation in which she stood 
to the monarchy. The King was her head. The limits of the 
authority which he possessed, as such, were not traced, and 
indeed have never yet been traced with precision. The laws 
which declared him supreme in ecclesiastical matters were drawn 


rudely and in general terms. If, for the purpose of ascertain- 
ing the sense of those laws, we examine the books and lives of 
those who founded the English Church, our perplexity will be 
increased. For the founders of the English Church wrote and 
acted in an age of violent intellectual fermentation, and of con- 
stant action and reaction. They therefore often contradicted 
each other, and sometimes contradicted themselves. That the 
King was, under Christ, sole head of the Church, was a doctrine 
which they all with one voice affirmed : but those words had 
very different significations in different mouths, and in the same 
mouth at different conjunctures. Sometimes an authority which 
would have satisfied Hildebrand was ascribed to the sovereign : 
then it dwindled down to an authority little more than that 
which had been claimed by many ancient English princes who 
had been in constant communion with the Church of Rome. 
What Henry and his favourite counsellors meant, at one time, 
by the supremacy, was certainly nothing less than the whole 
power of the keys. The King was to be the Pope of his king- 
dom, the vicar of God, the expositor of Catholic verity, the 
channel of sacramental graces. He arrogated to himself the 
right of deciding dogmatically what was orthodox doctrine and 
what was heresy, of drawing up and imposing confessions of 
faith, and of giving religious instruction to his people. He 
proclaimed that all jurisdiction, spiritual as well as temporal, 
was derived from him alone, and that it was in his power to 
confer episcopal authority, and to take it away. He actually 
ordered his seal to be put to commissions by which bishops were 
appointed, who were to exercise their functions as his deputies, 
and during his pleasure. According to this system, as expounded 
by Cranmer, the King was the spiritual as well as the temporal 
chief of the nation. In both capacities His Highness must 
have lieutenants. As he appointed civil officers to keep his 
seal, to collect his revenues, and to dispense justice in his name, 
so he appointed divines of various ranks to preach the gospel, 
and to administer the sacraments. It was unnecessary that 
there should be any imposition of hands. The King, — such 
was the opinion of Cranmer given in the plainest words, — 


mi^ht, in virtue of authority derived from God, make a priest ; 
and the priest so made needed no ordination whatever. These 
opinions the Archbishop, in spite of the opposition of less 
courtly divines, followed out to every legitimate .consequence. 
He held that his own spiritual functions, like the secular 
functions of the Chancellor and Treasurer, were at once deter- 
mined by a demise of the crown. When Henry died, there- 
fore, the Primate and his suffragans took out fresh commissions, 
empowering them to ordain and to govern the Church till the 
new sovereign should think fit to order otherwise. When ifc 
was objected that a power to bind and to loose, altogether 
distinct from temporal power, had been given by our Lord to 
his apostles, some theologians of this school replied that the 
power to bind and to loose had descended, not to the clergy, 
but to the whole body of Christian men, and ought to be 
exercised by the chief magistrate as the representative of the 
society. When it ""/as objected that Saint Paul had spoken of 
certain persons whom the Holy Ghost had made overseers and 
shepherds of the faithful, it was answered that King Henry 
was the very overseer, the very shepherd, whom the Holy 
Ghost had appointed, and to whom the expressions of Saint 
Paul applied.* 

These high pretensions gave scandal to Protestants as well 
as to Catholics ; and the scandal was greatly increased when 
the supremacy, which Mary had resigned back to the Pope, was 
again annexed to the crown, on the accession of Elizabeth. 
It seemed monstrous that a woman should be the chief bishop 
of a Church in which an apostle had forbidden her even to let 
her voice be heard. The Queen, therefore, found it necessary 
expressly to disclaim that sacerdotal character which her father 
had assumed, and which, according to Cranmer, had been 
inseparably joined, by divine ordinance, to the regal function. 
When the Anglican confession of faith was revised in her 
reign, the supremacy was explained in a manner somewhat 
different from that which had been fashionable at the court of 

* See a very curious paper which Strype believed to be in Gardiner's hand- 
writing. Ecclesiastical Memorials, Book I., Chap. xvii. 


Henry. Cranmor had declared, in emphatic terms, that God 
had immediately committed to Christian princes the whole cure 
of all their subjects, as well concerning the administration of 
God's word for the cure of souls, as concerning the administra- 
tion of things political.* The thirty-seventh article of religion, 
framed under Elizabeth, declares, in terms as emphatic, that 
the ministering of God's word does not belong to princes. The 
Queen, however, still had over the Church a visitatorial power 
of vast and undefined extent. She was entrusted by Parlia- 
ment with the office of restraining and punishing heresy and 
every sort of ecclesiastical abuse, and was permitted to dele- 
gate her authority to commissioners. The Bishops were little 
more than her ministers. Rather than grant to the civil magis- 
trate the absolute power of nominat ng spiritual pastors, the 
Church of Rome, in the eleventh century, set all Europe on 
fire. Rather than grant to the civil magistrate the absolute 
power of nominating spiritual pastors, the ministers of the 
Church of Scotland, in our time, resigned their livings hy hun- 
dreds. The Church of England had no such scruples. By 
the royal authority alone her prelates were appointed. By the 
royal authority alone her Convocations were summoned, regu- 
lated, prorogued, and dissolved. Without the royal sanction her 
canons had no force. One of tlje articles of her faith was that 
without the royal consent no ecclesiastical council could law- 
fully assemble. From all her judicatures an appeal lay, in the 
last resort, to the sovereign, even when the question was 
whether an opinion ought to be accounted heretical, or whether 
the administration of a sacrament had been valid. Nor did the 
^Church grudge this extensive power to our princes. By them 
she had been called into existence, nursed through a feeble in- 
fancy, guarded from Papists on one side and from Puritans on 
the other, protected against Parliaments which bore her no 
good will, and avenged on literary assailants whom she found 
it hard to answer. Thus gratitude, hope, fear, common attach- 
ments, common enmities, bound her to the throne. All her 

* These are Cranmer's own words. See the Appendix to Burnet's History 
of the Reformation, Tart I. Book III. No. 21. Question 9. 


traditions, all her tastes, were monarchical. Loyalty became a 
point of professional honour among her clergy, the peculiar 
bad^e which distinguished them at once from Calvinists and 
from Papists. Both the Calvinists and the Papists, widely as 
they differed in other respects, regarded with extreme jealousy 
all encroachments of the temporal power on the domain of the 
spiritual power. Both Calvinists and Papists maintained that 
subjects might justifiably draw the sword against ungodly rulers. 
In France Calvinists resisted Charles the Ninth : Papists re- 
sisted Henry the Fourth : both Papists and Calvinists resisted 
Henry the Third. In Scotland Calvinists led Mary captive. 
On the north of the Trent Papists took arms against the Eng- 
lish throne. The Church of England meantime condemned 
both Calvinists and Papists, and loudly boasted that no duty 
was more constantly or earnestly inculcated by her than that of 
submission to princes. 

The advantages which the crown derived from this close 
alliance with the Established Church were great ; but they 
were not without serious drawbacks. The compromise arranged 
by Cranmer had from the first been considered by a large 
body of Protestants as a scheme for serving two masters, as an 
attempt to unite the worship of the Lord with the worship of 
Baal. In the days of Edward the Sixth the scruples of this 
party" had repeatedly thrown great dilliculties in the way of the 
government. When Elizabeth came to the throne, those diffi- 
culties were much increased. Violence naturally engenders 
violence. The spirit of Protestantism was therefore far fiercer 
and more intolerant after the cruelties of Mary than before 
them. Many persons who were warmly attached to the new 
opinions had, during the evil days, taken refuge in Switzerland 
and Germany. They had been hospitably received by their 
brethren in the faith, had sate at the feet of the great doctors of 
Strasburg, Zurich, and Geneva, and had been, during some 
years, accustomed to a more simple worship, and to a more 
democratical form of church government, than England had yet 
seen. These men returned to their country convinced that the 
reform which had been effected under King Edward had been 


far less searching and extensive than the interests of pure re- 
ligion required. But it was in vain that they attempted to ob- 
tain any concession from Elizabeth. Indeed her system, where- 
ever it differed from her brother's, seemed to them to differ for 
the worse. They were little disposed to submit, in matters of 
faith, to any human authority. They had recently, in reliance 
on their own interpretation of Scripture, risen up against a 
Church strong in immemorial antiquity and catholic consent. It 
was by no common exertion of intellectual energy that they 
had thrown off the yoke of that gorgeous and imperial supersti- 
tion ; and it was vain to expect that, immediately after such an 
emancipation, they would patiently submit to a new spiritual 
tyranny. Long accustomed, when the priest lifted up the 
host, to bow down with their faces to the earth, as before a 
present God, they had learned to treat the mass as an idola- 
trous mummery. Long accustomed to regard the Pope as the 
successor of the chief of the apostles, as the bearer of the keys 
of earth and heaven, they had learned to regard him as the 
Beast, the Antichrist, the Man of Sin. It was not to be expect- 
ed that they would immediately transfer to an upstart authority 
the homage which they had withdrawn from the Vatican; that 
they would submit their private judgment to the authority of a 
Church founded on private judgment alone ; that they would 
be afraid to dissent from teachers who themselves dissented 
from what had lately been the universal faith of western Chris- 
tendom. It is easy to conceive the indignation which must 
have been felt by bold and inquisitive spirits, glorying in newly 
acquired freedom, when an institution younger by many years 
than themselves, an institution which had, under their own 
eyes, gradually received its form from the passions and interests 
of a court, began to mimic the lofty style of Rome. 

Since these men could not be convinced, it was determined 
that they should be persecuted. Persecution produced its natu- 
ral effect on them. It found them a sect : it made them a 
faction. To their hatred of the Church was now added hatred 
of the Crown. The two sentiments were intermingled ; and 
each embittered the other. The opinions of the Puritan con- 


cernmg the relation of ruler and subject were widely different 
from those which were inculcated in the Homilies. His favour- 
ite divines had, both by precept and by example, encouraged 
resistance to tyrants and persecutors. His fellow Calvinists 
in France, in Holland, and in Scotland, were in arms against 
idolatrous and cruel princes. His notions, too, respecting the 
government of the state took a tinge from his notions respect- 
ing the government of the Church. Some of the sarcasms 
which were popularly thrown on episcopacy might, without much 
difficulty, be turned against royalty ; and many of the arguments 
which were used to prove that spiritual power was best lodged 
in a synod seemed to lead to the conclusion that temporal power 
was best lodged in a parliament. 

Thus, as the priest of the Established Church was, from 
interest, from principle, and from passion, zealous for the royal 
prerogatives, the Puritan was, from interest, from principle, 
and from passion, hostile to them. The power of the discontented 
sectaries was great. They were found in every rank ; but they 
were strongest among the mercantile classes in the towns, and 
among the small proprietors in the country. Early in the reign 
of Elizabeth they began to return a majority of the House of 
Commons. And doubtless, had our ancestors been then at 
liberty to fix their attention entirely on domestic questions, the 
strife between the Crown and the Parliament would instantly 
have commenced. But that was no season for internal dissen- 
sions. It might, indeed, well be doubted whether the firmest 
union among all the orders of the state could avert the common 
danger by which all were threatened. Roman Catholic Europe 
and reformed Europe were struggling for death or life. France 
divided against herself, had, for a time, ceased to be of any 
account in Christendom. The English Government was at the 
head of the Protestant interest, and, while persecuting Presby- 
terians at home, extended a powerful protection to Presbyte- 
rian Churches abroad. At the head of the opposite party was 
the mightiest prince of the age, a prince who ruled Spain, 
Portugal, Italy, the East and the West Indies, whose armies 
repeatedly marched to Paris, and whose fleets kept the coasts of 



Devonshire and Sussex in alarm. It long seemed probable 
that Englishmen would have to fight desperately on English 
ground for their religion and independence. Nor were they 
ever for a moment free from apprehensions of some great trea- 
son at home. For in that age it had become a point of con- 
science and of honour with many men of generous natures to 
sacrifice their country to their religion. A succession of dark 
plots, formed by Roman Catholics against the life of the Queen 
and the existence of the nation, kept society in constant alarm. 
Whatever might be the faults of Elizabeth, it was plain that, 
to speak humanly, the fate of the realm and of all reformed 
Churches was staked on the security of her person and on the 
success of her administration. To strengthen her hands was, 
therefore, the first duty of a patriot and a Protestant ; and 
that duty was well performed. The Puritans, even in the 
depths of the prisons to which she had sent them, prayed, and 
with no simulated fervour, that she might be kept from the dag- 
ger of the assassin, that rebellion might be put down under her 
feet, and that her arms might be victorious by sea and land. 
One of the most stubborn of the stubborn sect, immediately 
after his hand had been lopped off for an offence into which he 
had been hurried by his intemperate zeal, waved his hat with 
the hand which was still left him, and shouted " God save the 
Queen ! " The sentiment with which these men regarded her has 
descended to their posterity. The Nonconformists, rigorously 
as she treated them, have, as a body, always venerated her 

During the greater part of her reign, therefore, the Puritans 
in the House of Commons, though sometimes mutinous, felt no 
disposition to array themselves in systematic opposition to the 

* The Puritan historian, Neal, after censuring the cruelty with which she 
treated the sect to which he belonged, concludes thus : " However, notwithstand- 
ing all these blemishes, Queen Elizabeth stands upon record as a wise and politic, 
princess, for delivering her kingdom from the difficulties in which it was in- 
volved at her accession, for preservingthe Protestant reformation the po- 
tent attempts of the Pope, the E-nperor. and King of Spain abroad, and the Queen 
of Scots and her Popish subjects at home. . . . She was the glory of the age in 
which she lived, and will be the admiration of posterity."— History of the Puri- 
tans, Part I. Chap. viii. 


government. But, when the defeat of the Armada, the success- 
ful resistance of the United Provinces to the Spanish power, the 
firm establishment of Henry the Fourth on the throne of France, 
and the death of Philip the Second, had secured the State and 
the Church against all danger from abroad, an obstinate strug- 
gle, destined to last during several generations, instantly began 
at home. 

It was in the Parliament of 1601 that the opposition which 
had, during forty years, been silently gathering and husbanding 
strength, fought its first great battle and won its first victory. 
The ground was well chosen. The English Sovereigns had al- 
ways been entrusted with the supreme direction of commercial 
police. It was their undoubted prerogative to regulate coin, 
weights, and measures, and to appoint fairs, markets, and ports. 
The line which bounded their authority over trade had, as usual, 
been but loosely drawn. They therefore, as usual, encroached 
on the province which rightfully belonged to the legislature. 
The encroachment was, as usual, patiently borne, till it became 
serious. But at length the Queen took upon herself to grant 
patents of monopoly by scores. There was scarcely a family in 
the realm which did not feel itself aggrieved by the oppression 
and extortion which this abuse naturally caused. Iron, oil, vine- 
gar, coal, saltpetre, lead, starch, yarn, skins, leather, glass, could 
be bought only at exorbitant prices. The House of Commons 
met in an angry and determined mood. It was in vain that a 
courtly minority blamed the Speaker for suffering the acts of 
the Queen's Highness to be called in question. The language of 
the discontented party was high and menacing, and was echoed 
by the voice of the whole nation. The coach of the chief min- 
ister of the crown was surrounded by an indignant populace, who 
cursed the monopolies, and exclaimed that the prerogative should 
not be suffered to touch the old liberties of England. There 
seemed for a moment to be some danger that the long and glo- 
rious reign of Elizabeth would have a shameful and disastrous 
end. She, however, with admirable judgment and temper, de- 
clined the contest, put herself at the head of the reforming par- 
ty, redressed the grievance, thanked the Commons, in touching 


and dignified language, for their tender care of the general weal, 
brought back to herself the hearts of the people, and left to her 
successors a memorable example of the way in which it behoves 
a ruler to deal with public movements which he has not the 
means of resisting. 

In the year 1603 the great Queen died. That year is, on 
many accounts, one of the most important epochs in our history. 
It was then that both Scotland and Ireland became parts of the 
same empire with England. Both Scotland and Ireland, indeed, 
had been subjugated by the Plantagenets ; but neither country 
had been patient under the yoke. Scotland had, with heroic 
energy, vindicated her independence, had, from the time of Rob- 
ert Bruce, been a separate kingdom, and was now joined to the 
southern part of the island in a manner which rather gratified 
than wounded her national pride. Ireland had never, since the 
days of Henry the Second, been able to expel the foreign invad- 
ers ; but she had struggled against them long and fiercely. Dur- 
ing the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the English power in 
that island was constantly declining, and in the days of Henry 
the Seventh, sank to the lowest point. The Irish dominions of 
that prince consisted only of the counties of Dublin and Louth, 
of some parts of Meath and Kildare, and of a few seaports 
scattered along the coast. A large portion even of Leinster 
was not yet divided into counties. Munster, Ulster, and Con- 
naught were ruled by petty sovereigns, partly Celts, and partly 
degenerate Normans, who had forgotten their origin and had 
adopted the Celtic language and manners. But during the six- 
teenth century, the English power had made great progress. 
The half savage chieftains who reigned beyond the pale had sub- 
mitted one after another to the lieutenants of the Tudors. At 
length, a few weeks before the death of Elizabeth, the conquest, 
which had been begun more than four hundred years before by 
Strongbow, was completed by Mountjoy. Scarcely had James 
the First mounted the English throne when the last O'Donnel and 
O'Neil who have held the rank of independent princes kissed 
his hand at Whitehall. Thenceforward his writs ran and his 
judges held assizes in every part of Ireland; and the English 


law superseded the customs which had prevailed among the 
aboriginal tribes. 

In extent Scotland and Ireland were nearly equal to each 
other, and were together nearly equal to England, but were 
much less thickly peopled than England, and were very far 
behind England in wealth and civilisation. Scotland had been 
kept back by the sterility of her soil ; and, in the midst of 
light, the thick darkness of the middle ajjes still rested on Ire- 

The population of Scotland, with the exception of the Cel- 
tic tribes which were thinly scattered over the Hebrides and 
over the mountainous parts of the northern shires, was of the 
same blood with the population of England, and spoke a 
tongue which did not differ from the purest English more than 
the dialects of Somersetshire and Lancashire differed from each 
other. In Ireland, on the contrary, the population, with the 
exception of the small English colony near the coast, was Cel- 
tic; and still kept the Celtic speech and manners. 

In natural courage and intelligence both the nations which 
now became connected with England ranked high. In perse- 
verance, in self command, in forethought, in all the virtues 
which conduce to success in life, the Scots have never been 
surpassed. The Irish, on the other hand, were distinguished 
by qualities which tend to make men interesting rather than 
.prosperous. The}' - were an ardent and impetuous race, easily 
moved to tears or to laughter, to fury or to love. Alone among 
the nations of northern Europe they had the susceptibility, the 
vivacity, the natural turn for acting and rhetoric, which are 
indigenous on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In mental 
cultivation Scotland had an indisputable superiority. Though 
that kingdom was then the poorest in Christendom, it already 
vied in every branch of learning with the most favoured coun- 
tries. Scotsmen, whose dwellings and whose food were as 
wretched as those of the Icelanders of our time, wrote Latin 
verse with more than the delicacy of Vida, and made discoveries 
in science which would have added to the renown of Galileo. 
Ireland could boast of no Buchanan or Napier. The genius, 


with which her aboriginal inhabitants were largely endowed, 
showed itself as yet only in ballads which, wild and rugged as 
they were, seemed to the judging eye of Spenser to contain a 
portion of the pure gold of poetry. 

Scotland, in becoming part of the British monarchy, pre- 
served her dignity. Having, during many generations, cour- 
ageously withstood the English arms, she was now joined to 
her stronger neighbour on the most honourable terms. She 
gave a King instead of receiving one. She retained her own 
constitution and laws. Her tribunals and parliaments remained 
entirely independent of the tribunals and parliaments which 
sate at Westminster. The administration of Scotland was in 
Scottish hands ; for no Englishman had any motive to emigrate 
northward, and to contend with the shrewdest and most perti- 
nacious of all races for what was to be scraped together in the 
poorest of all treasuries. Nevertheless Scotland by no means 
escaped the fate ordained for every country which is connected, 
but not incorporated, with another country of greater resources. 
Though in name an independent kingdom, she was, during more 
than a century, really treated, in many respects, as a subject 

Ireland was undisguisedly governed as a dependency won 
by the sword. Her rude national institutions had perished. 
The English colonists submitted to the dictation of the mother 
country, without whose support they could not exist, and in- 
demnified themselves by trampling on the people among whom 
they had settled. The parliaments which met at Dublin could 
pass no law which had not been previously approved by the 
English Privy Council. The authority of the English legisla- 
ture extended over Ireland. The executive administration was 
entrusted to men taken either from England or from the English 
pale, and, in either case, regarded as foreigners, and even as 
enemies, by the Celtic population. 

But the circumstance which, more than any other, has made 
Ireland to differ from Scotland remains to be noticed. Scotland 
was Protestant. In no part of Europe had the movement of 
the popular mind against the Roman Catholic Church been so 


rapid and violent. The Reformers had vanquished, deposed, 
and imprisoned their idolatrous sovereign. They would not 
endure even such a compromise as had been effected in England. 
They had established the Calvinistic doctrine, discipline, and 
worship ; and they made little distinction between Popery and 
Prelacy, between the Mass and the Book of Common Prayer. 
Unfortunately for Scotland, the prince whom she sent to govern 
a fairer inheritance had been so much annoyed by the pertinacity 
with which her theologians had asserted against him the privi- 
leges of the synod and the pulpit that he hated the ecclesiastical 
polity to which she was fondly attached as much as it was in his 
effeminate nature to hate anything, and had no sooner mounted 
the English throne than he began to show an intolerant zeal 
for the government and ritual of the English Church. 

The Irish were the only people of northern Europe who 
had remained true to the old religion. This is to be partly as- 
cribed to the circumstance that they were some centuries behind 
their neighbours in knowledge. But other causes had coope- 
rated. The Reformation had been a national as well as a moral 
revolt. It had been, not only an insurrection of the laity 
against the clergy, but also an insurrection of all the branches 
of the great German race against an alien domination. It is a 
most significant circumstance that no large society of which the 
tongue is not Teutonic has ever turned Protestant, and that, 
wherever a language derived from that of ancient Rome is 
spoken, the religion of modern Rome to this day prevails. The 
patriotism of the Irish had taken a peculiar direction. The ob- 
ject of their animosity was not Rome, but England ; and they 
had especial reason to abhor those English sovereigns who had 
been the chiefs of the great schism, Henry the Eighth and Eliz- 
abeth. During the vain struggle which two generations of Mi- 
lesian princes maintained against the Tudors, religious enthusi- 
asm and national enthusiasm became inseparably blended in the 
minds of the vanquished race. The new feud of Protestant and 
Papist inflamed the old feud of Saxon and Celt. The English 
conquerors, meanwhile, neglected all legitimate means of con- 
version. No care was taken to provide the vanquished nation 


with instructors capable of making themselves understood. No 
translation of the Bible was put forth in the Irish language. 
The government contented itself with setting up a vast hierarchy 
of Protestant archbishops, bishops, and rectors, who did nothing, 
and who, for doing nothing, were paid out of the spoils of a 
Church loved and revered by the great body of the people. 

There was much in the state both of Scotland and of Ireland 
which might well excite the painful apprehensions of a farsighted 
statesman. As yet, however, there was the appearance of tran- 
quillity. For the first time all the British isles were peaceably 
united under one sceptre. 

It should seem that the weight of England among European 
nations ought, from this epoch, to have greatly increased. The 
territory which her new King governed was, in extent, nearly 
double that which Elizabeth had inherited. His empire was the 
most complete within itself and the most secure from attack that 
was to be found in the world. The Plantagenets and Tudors 
had been repeatedly under the necessity of defending them- 
selves against Scotland while they were engaged in continental 
war. The long conflict in Ireland had been a severe and per- 
petual drain on their resources. Yet even under such disadvan- 
tages those sovereigns had been highly considered throughout 
Christendom. It might, therefore, not unreasonably be expect- 
ed that England, Scotland, and Ireland combined would form a 
state second to none that then existed. 

All such expectations were strangely disappointed. On the 
day of the accession of James the First England descended 
from the rank which she had hitherto held, and began to be re- 
garded as a power hardty of the second order. During many 
years the great British monarchy, under four successive princes 
of the House of Stuart, was scarcely a more important member 
of the European system than the little kingdom of Scotland had 
previously been. This, however, is little to be regretted. Of 
James the First, as of John, it may be said that, if his adminis- 
tration had been able and splendid, it would probably have been 
fatal to our country, and that we owe more to his weakness and 
meanness than to the wisdom and courage of much better sover- 


ei"Tis. He came to the throne at a critical moment. The time 
was fast approaching when either the King must become abso- 
lute, or the Parliament must control the whole executive ad- 
ministration. Had James been, like Henry the Fourth, like 
Maurice of Nassau, or like Gustavus Adolphus, a valiant, ac- 
tive, and politic ruler, had he put himself at the head of the 
Protestants of Europe, had he gained great victories over Tilly 
and Spinola, had he adorned Westminster with the spoils of Ba- 
varian monasteries and Flemish cathedrals, had he hung Austrian 
and Castilian banners in Saint Paul's, and had he found himself, 
after great achievements, at the head of fifty thousand troops, 
brave, well disciplined, and devotedly attached to his person, 
the English Parliament would soon have been nothing more 
than a name. Happily he was not a man to play such a part. 
He began his administration by putting an end to the war which 
had raged during many years between England and Spain ; and 
from that time he shunned hostilities with a caution which was 
proof against the insults of his neighbours and the clamours of his 
subjects. Not till the last year of his life could the influence of 
his son, his favourite, his Parliament, and his people combined, 
induce him to strike one feeble blow in defence of his family and 
of his religion. It was well for those whom he governed that 
he in this matter disregarded their wishes. The effect of h's pa- 
cific policy was that, in his time, no regular troops were needed, 
and that, while France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Germany 
swarmed with mercenary soldiers, the defence of our island was 
still confided to the militia. 

As the King had no standing army, and did not even at- 
tempt to form one, it would have been wise in him to avoid any 
conflict with his people. But such was his indiscretion that, 
while he altogether neglected the means which alone could make 
him really absolute, he constantly put forward, in the most 
offensive form, claims of which none of his predecessors had 
ever dreamed. It was at this time that those strange theories 
which Filmer afterwards formed into a system, and which be- 
came the badge of the most violent class of Tories and high 
churchmen, first emerged into notice. It was gravel v main- 


tained that the Supreme Being regarded hereditary monarchy, as 
opposed to other forms of government, with peculiar favour ; 
that the rule of succession in order of primogeniture was a 
divine institution, anterior to the Christian, and even to the 
Mosaic dispensation ; that no human power, not even that of 
the whole legislature, no length of adverse possession, though it 
extended to ten centuries, could deprive a legitimate prince of 
his rights ; that the authority of such a prince was necessarily 
always despotic; that the laws, by which, in England and in 
other countries, the prerogative was limited, were to be re- 
garded merely as concessions which the sovereign had freely 
made and might at his pleasure resume ; and that any treaty 
which a king might conclude with his people -was merely a 
declaration of his present intentions, and not a contract of which 
the performance could be demanded. It is evident that this 
theory, though intended to strengthen the foundations of 
government, altogether unsettles them. Does the divine and 
immutable law of primogeniture admit females, or exclude 
them ? On either supposition half the sovereigns of Europe 
must be usurpers, reigning in defiance of the law of God, and 
liable to be dispossessed by the rightful heirs. The doctrine 
that kingly government is peculiarly favoured by Heaven 
receives no countenance from the Old Testament ; for in the 
Old Testament we read that the chosen people were blamed 
and punished for desiring a king, and that they were afterwards 
commanded to withdraw their allegiance from him. Their 
whole history, far from countenancing the notion that succession 
in order of primogeniture is of divine institution, would rather 
seem to indicate that younger brothers are under the especial 
protection of heaven. Isaac was not the eldest son of Abraham, 
nor Jacob of Isaac, nor Judah of Jacob, nor David of Jesse, 
nor Solomon of David Nor does the system of Filmer receive 
any countenance from those passages of the New Testament 
which describe government as an ordinance of God : for the 
government under which the writers of the New Testament 
lived was not a hereditary monarchy. The Roman Emperors 
were republican magistrates, named by the senate. None of 


tliem pretended to rule by right of birth ; and, in fact, both 
Tiberius, to whom Christ commanded that tribute should be 
given, and Nero, whom Paul directed the Romans to obey, 
were, according to the patriarchal theory of government, 
usurpers. In the middle ages the doctrine of indefeasible hered- 
itary right would have been regarded as heretical: for it was 
altogether incompatible with the high pretensions of the Church 
of Rome. It was a doctrine unknown to the founders of the 
Church of England. The Homily on Wilful Rebellion had strong- 
ly, and indeed too strongly, inculcated submission to constituted 
authority, but had made no distinction between hereditary and 
elective monarchies, or between monarchies and republics. Indeed 
most of the predecessors of James would, from personal motives, 
have regarded the patriarchal theory of government with aver- 
sion. William Rufus, Henry the First, Stephen, John, Henry 
the Fourth, Henry the Fifth, Henry the Sixth, Richard the 
Third, and Henry the Seventh, had all reigned in defiance of 
the strict rule of descent. A grave doubt hung over the 
legitimacy both of Mary and of Elizabeth. It was impossible 
that both Catharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn could have 
been lawfully married to Henry the Eighth ; and the highest 
authority in the realm had pronounced that neither was so. The 
Tudors, far from considering the law of succession as a divine 
and unchangeable institution, were constantly tampering with 
it. Henry the Eighth obtained an act of parliament, giving 
him power to leave the crown by will, and actually made a will 
to the prejudice of the royal family of Scotland. Edward the 
Sixth, unauthorised by Parliament, assumed a similar power, 
with the full approbation of the most eminent Reformers. 
Elizabeth, conscious that her own title was open to grave ob- 
jection, and unwilling to admit even a reversionary right in her 
rival and enemy the Queen of Scots, induced the Parliament to 
pass a law, enacting that whoever should deny the competency 
of the reigning sovereign, with the assent of the Estates of the 
realm, to alter the succession, should suffer death as a traitor- 
But the situation of James was widely different from that of 
Elizabeth. Far inferior to her in abilities and in popularity, 


regarded by the English as an alien, and excluded from the 
throne by the testament of Henry the Eighth, the King of Scots 
was yet the undoubted heir of William the Conqueror and of 
Egbert. He had, therefore, an obvious interest in inculcating 
the superstitious notion that birth confers rights anterior to law, 
and unalterable by law. It was a notion, moreover, well suited 
to his intellect and temper. It soon found many advocates 
among those who aspired to his favour, and made rapid pro- 
gress among the clergy of the Established Church. 

Thus, at the very moment at which a republican spirit began 
to manifest itself strongly in the Parliament and in the country, 
the claims of the monarch took a monstrous form which would 
have disgusted the proudest and most arbitrary of those who 
had preceded him on the throne. • 

James was always boasting of his skill in what he called 
kingcraft ; and yet it is hardly possible even to imagine a course 
more directly opposed to all the rules of kingcraft, than that 
which he followed. The policy of wise rulers has always been 
to disguise strong acts under popular forms. It was thus that 
Augustus and Napoleon established absolute monarchies, while 
the public regarded them merely as' eminent citizens invested 
with temporary magistracies. The policy of James was the di- 
rect reverse of theirs. He enraged and alarmed his Parliament 
by constantly telling them that they held their privileges merely 
during his pleasure, and that they had no more business to 
inquire what he might lawfully do than what the Deity might 
lawfully do. Yet he quailed before them, abandoned minister 
after minister to their vengeance, and suffered them to tease 
him into acts directly opposed to his strongest inclinations. 
Thus the indignation excited by his claims and the scorn 
•excited by his concessions went on growing together. By his 
fondness for worthless minions, and by the sanction which he 
gave to their tyranny and rapacity, he kept discontent constantly 
alive. His cowardice, his childishness, his pedantry, his ungainly 
person, his provincial accent, made him an object of derision. 
Even in his virtues and accomplishments there was something 
eminently unkingly. Throughout the whole course of his reign, 


all the venerable associations by which the throne had long been 
fenced were gradually losing their strength. During two hun- 
dred years all the sovereigns who had ruled England, with the 
exception of Henry the Sixth, had been strongminded, highspir- 
ited, courageous, and of princely bearing. Almost all had pos- 
sessed abilities above the ordinary level. It was no light thing 
that on the very eve of the decisive struggle between our Kings 
and their Parliaments, royalty should be exhibited to the world 
stammering, slobbering, shedding unmanly tears, trembling at a 
drawn sword, and talking in the style alternately of a buifoon 
and of a pedagogue. 

In the meantime the religious dissensions, by which, from 
the days of Edward the Sixth, the Protestant body had been 
distracted, had become more formidable than ever. The inter- 
val which had separated the first generation of Puritans from 
Cranmer and Jewel was small indeed when compared with the 
interval which separated the third generation of Puritans from 
Laud and Hammond. While the recollection of Mary's cruelties 
was still fresh, while the powers of the Roman Catholic party 
still inspired apprehension, while Spain still retained ascendency 
and aspired to universal dominion, all the reformed sects knew 
that they had a strong common interest and a deadly common 
enemy. The animosity which they felt towards each other was 
languid when compared with the animosity which they all felt to- 
wards Rome. Conformists and Nonconformists had heartily joined 
in enacting penal laws of extreme severity against the Papists. 
But when more than half a century of undisturbed possession 
had given confidence to the Established Church, when nine 
tenths of the nation had become heartily Protestant, when Eng- 
land was at peace with all the world, when there was no danger 
that Popery would be forced by foreign arms on the nation, 
when the last confessors who had stood before Bonner had 
passed away, a change took place in the feeling of the Angli- 
can clergy. Their hostility to the Roman Catholic doctrine and 
discipline was considerably mitigated. Their dislike of the Puri- 
tans, on the other hand, increased daily. The controversies 
which had from the beginning divided the Protestant party took 


such a form as made reconciliation hopeless ; and new controver- 
sies of still greater importance were added to the old subjects of 

The founders of the Anglican Church had retained episco- 
pacy as an ancient, a decent, and a convenient ecclesiastical 
polity, but had not declared that form of church government 
to be of divine institution. We have already seen how low an 
estimate Cranmer had formed of the office of a Bishop. In the 
reign of Elizabeth, Jewel, Cooper, Whitgift, and other eminent 
doctors defended prelacy, as innocent, as useful, as what the 
state might lawfully establish, as what, when established by the 
state, was entitled to the respect of every citizen. But they 
never denied that a Christian community without a Bishop 
might be a pure Church.* On the contrary, they regarded the 
Protestants of the Continent as of the same household of faith 
with themselves. Englishmen in England were indeed bound 
to acknowledge the authority of the Bishop, as they were bound 
to acknowledge the authority of the Sheriff and of the Coroner : 
but the obligation was purely local. An English churchman, 
nay even an English prelate, if he went to Holland, conformed 
without scruple to the established religion of Holland. Abroad 
the ambassadors of Elizabeth and James went in state to the 
very worship which Elizabeth and James persecuted at home, 

* On this subject, Bishop Cooper's language is remarkably clear and strong. 
He maintains, in his Answer to Martin Marprelate, printed in 1589, that no form 
of church government is divinely ordained ; that Protestant communities, in 
establishing different forms, have only made a legitimate use of their Christian 
liberty ; and that episcopacy is peculiarly suited to England, because the English 
constitution is monarchical. " All those Churches," says the Bishop, " in which 
the Gospell, in these daies, after great darknesse, was first renewed, and the 
learned men whom God sent to instruct them, I doubt not but have been directed 
by the Spirite of God to retaine this liberty, that, in external government and 
other outward orders, they might choose such as they thought in wisedome and 
godlinesse to be most convenient for the slate of their countrey and disposition 
of their people. Why then should this liberty that other countreys have used 
under auie colour be wrested from us? I think it therefore great presumption 
and boldnesse that some of our nation, and those, whatever they may think of 
themselves, not of the greatest wisedome and skill, should take upon them to 
controlle the whole realme, and to binde both prince and people in respect of 
conscience to alter the present state, and tie themselves to a certain platforme 
devised by some of our neighbours, which, in the judgment of many wise and 
godly persons, is most unfit for the state of a Kingdome." 


and carefully abstained from decorating their private chapels 
after the Anglican fashion, lest scandal should be given to 
weaker brethren. An instrument is still extant by which the 
Primate of all England, in the year 1582, authorised a Scotch 
minister, ordained, according to the laudable forms of the Scotch 
Church, by the Synod of East Lothian, to preach and administer 
the sacraments in any part of the province of Canterbury. * In 
the year 1603, the Convocation solemnly recognised the Church 
of Scotland, a Church in which episcopal control and episcopal 
ordination were then unknown, as a branch of the Holy Catholic 
Church of Christ. | It was even held that Presbyterian minis- 
ters were entitled to place and voice in oecumenical councils. 
When the States General of the United Provinces convoked at 
Dort a synod of doctors not episcopally ordained, an English 
Bishop and an English Dean, commissioned by the head of the 
English Church, sate with those doctors, preached to them, and 
voted with them on the gravest questions of theology. $ Nay, 
many English benefices were held by divines who had been 
admitted to the ministry in the Calvinistic form used on the 
Continent ; nor was reordination by a Bishop in such cases then 
thought necessary, or even lawful. § 

But a new race of divines was already rising in the Church 
of England. In their view the episcopal office was essential to 
the welfare of a Christian society and to the efficacy of the 
most solemn ordinances of religion. To that office belonged 
certain high and sacred privileges, which no human power could 

* Strype's Life of Grindal, Appendix to Book II. No. xvii. 

t Canon 55, of 1603. 

t Joseph Hall, then dean of Worcester, and afterwards bishop of Norwich, 
was one of the commissioners. In his life of himself, he says : " My unworthi- 
ness was named for one of the assistants of that honourable, grave, and reverend 
meeting." To high churchmen this humility will seem not a little out of place. 

§ It was by the Act of Uniformity, passed after the Restoration, that persons 
not episcopally ordained were, for the lirst time, made incapable of holding 
benefices. No man was more zealous for this law than Clarendon. Yet he says : 
" This was new ; for there had been many, and at present there were some, who 
possessed benefices with cure of souls and other ecclesiastical promotions, who 
had never received orders but in France or Holland ; and these men must now 
receive new ordination, which had been always held unlawful in the Church, or by 
this act of parliament must be deprived of their livelihood which they enjoyed 
in the most flourishing and peaceable time of the Church." 


give or take away. A church might as well be without the 
doctrine of the Trinity, or the doctrine of the Incarnation, as 
without the apostolical orders ; and the Church of Rome, which, 
in the midst of all her corruptions, had retained the apostolical 
orders, was nearer to primitive purity than those reformed 
societies which had rashly set up, in opposition to the divine 
model, a s} r stem invented by men. 

In the days of Edward the Sixth and of Elizabeth, the 
defenders of the Anglican ritual had generally contented them- 
selves with saying that it might be used without sin, and that, 
therefore, none but a perverse and imdutiful subject would 
refuse to use it when enjoined to do so by the magistrate. Now, 
however, that rising party which claimed for the polity of the 
Church a celestial origin began to ascribe to her services a new 
dignity and importance. It was hinted that, if. the established 
worship had any fault, that fault was extreme simplicity, and 
that the Reformers had, in the heat of their quarrel with Rome, 
abolished many ancient ceremonies which might with advantage 
have been retained. Days and places were again held in 
mysterious veneration. Some practices which had long been 
disused, and which were commonly regarded as superstitious 
mummeries, were revived. Paintings and carvings, which had 
escaped the fury of the first generation of Protestants, became 
the objects of a respect such as to many seemed idolatrous. 

No part of the system of the old Church had been more 
detested by the Reformers than the honour paid to celibacy. 
They held that the doctrine of Rome on this subject had been 
prophetically condemned by the apostle Paul, as a doctrine of 
devils ; and they dwelt much on the crimes and scandals which 
seemed to prove the justice of this awful denunciation. Luther 
had evinced his own opinion in the clearest manner, by espousing 
a nun. Some of the most illustrious bishops and priests who 
had died by fire during the reign of Mary had left wives and 
children. Now, however, it began to be rumoured that the old 
monastic spirit had reappeared in the Church of England : that 
there was in high quarters a prejudice against married priests; 
that even lavmen, who called themselves Protestants, had made 


resolutions of celibacy which almost amounted to vows ; nay, 
that a minister of the established religion had set up a nunnerj-, 
in which the psalms were chaunted at midnight, by a company 
of virgins dedicated to God.* 

Nor was this all. A class of questions, as to which the 
founders of the Anglican Church and the first generation of 
Puritans had differed little or not at all, began to furnish 
matter for fierce disputes. The controversies which had divided 
the Protestant body in its infancy had related almost exclusively 
to Church government and to ceremonies. There had been no 
serious quarrel between the contending parties on points of 
metaphysical theology. The doctrines held by the chiefs of the 
hierarchy touching original sin, faith, grace, predestination, and 
election, were those which are popularly called Calvinistic. 
Towards the close of Elizabeth's reign her favourite prelate, 
Archbishop Whitgift, drew up, in concert with the Bishop of 
London and other theologians, the celebrated instrument known 
by the name of the Lambeth Articles. In that instrument the 
most startling of the Calvinistic doctrines are affirmed with a 
distinctness which would shock many who, in our age, are 
reputed Calvinists. One clergyman, who took the opposite side, 
and spoke harshly of Calvin, was arraigned for his presumption 
by the University of Cambridge, and escaped punishment only 
by expressing his firm belief in the tenets of reprobation and 
final perseverance, and his sorrow for the offence which he had 
given to pious men by reflecting on the great French reformer. 
The school of divinity of which Hooker was the chief occupies 
a middle place between the school of Cranmer and the school of 
Laud ; and Hooker has, in modern times, been claimed by the 
Arminians as an ally. Yet Hooker pronounced Calvin to have 
been a man superior in wisdom to any other divine that France 
had produced, a man to whom thousands were indebted for the 
knowledge of divine truth, but who was himself indebted to God 
alone. When the Arminian controversy arose in Holland, the 

* Peckard's Life of Ferrar ; The Arminian Nunnery, or a Brief Description 
of the late erected monastical Place called the Arminian Nunnery, at Little 
Gidding in Huntingdonshire, 1641. 



English government and the English Church lent strong support 
to the Calvinistic party ; nor is the English name altogether 
free from the stain which has been left on that party by the 
imprisonment of Grotius and the judicial murder of Barneveldt. 

But, even before the meeting of the Dutch synod, that part 
of the Anglican clergy which was peculiarly hostile to the Cal- 
vinistic Church government and to the Calvinistic worship had 
begun to regard with dislike the Calvinistic metaphysics ; and 
this feeling was very naturally strengthened by the gross injus- 
tice, insolence, and cruelty of the party which was prevalent at 
Dort. The Arminian doctrine, a doctrine less austerely logical 
than that of the early Reformers, but more agreeable to the 
popular notions of the divine justice and benevolence, spread 
fast and wide. The infection soon reached the court. Opin- 
ions which at the time of the accession of James, no clergyman 
could have avowed without imminent risk of being stripped of 
his gown, were now the best title to preferment. A divine of 
that age, who was asked by a simple country gentleman what 
the Arminians held, answered, with as much truth as wit, that 
they held all the best bishoprics and deaneries in England. 

While the majority of the Anglican clergy quitted, in one 
direction, the position which they had originally occupied, the 
majority of the Puritan body departed, in a direction diametri- 
cally opposite, from the principles and practices of their fathers. 
The persecution which the separatists had undergone had been 
severe enough to irritate, but not severe enough to destroy. 
They had been, not tamed into submission, but baited into 
savageness and stubborness. After the fashion of oppressed 
sects, they mistook their own vindictive feelings for emotions of 
piety, encouraged in themselves by reading and meditation a 
disposition to brood over their wrongs, and, when they had 
worked themselves up into hating their enemies, imagined that 
they were only hating the enemies of heaven. In the New 
Testament there was little indeed which, even when perverted 
by the most disingenuous exposition, could seem to countenance 
the indulgence of malevolent passions. But the Old Testament 
contained the history of a race selected by God to be witnesses 


of his unity and ministers of his vengeance, and specially com- 
manded by him to do many things which, if done without his 
special command, would have been atrocious crimes. In such a 
history it was not difficult for fierce and gloomy spirits to find 
much that might be distorted to suit their wishes. The extreme 
Puritans therefore began to feel for the Old Testament a pref- 
erence, which, perhaps, they did not distinctly avow even to 
themselves; but which showed itself in all their sentiments and 
habits. They paid to the Hebrew language a respect which they 
refused to that tongue in which the discourses of Jesus and the 
epistles of Paul have come down to us. They baptized their 
children by the names, not of Christian saints, but of Hebrew 
patriarchs and warriors. In defiance of the express and reit- 
erated declarations of Luther and Calvin, they turned the weekly 
festival by which the Church had, from the prim'tive times, 
commemorated the resurrection of her Lord, into a Jewish Sab- 
bath. They sought for principles of jurisprudence in the 
Mosaic law, and for precedents to guide their ordinary conduct 
in the books of Judges and Kings. Their thoughts and dis- 
course ran much on acts which were assuredly not recorded as 
examples for our imitation. The prophet who hewed in pieces 
a captive king, the rebel general who gave the blood of a queen 
to the dogs, the matron who, in defiance of plighted faith, and 
of the laws of eastern hospitality, drove the nail into the brain 
of the fugitive ally who had just fed at her board, and who was 
sleeping under the shadow of her tent, were proposed as models 
to Christians suffering under the tyranny of princes and pre- 
lates. Morals and manners were subjected to a code resembling 
that of the synagogue, when the synagogue was in its worst 
state. The dress, the deportment, the language, the studies, the 
amusements of the rigid sect were regulated on principles not 
unlike those of the Pharisees who, proud of their washed hands 
and broad phylacteries, taunted the Redeemer as a sabbath- 
breaker and a winebibber. It was a sin to hang garlands on a 
Maypole, to drink a friend's health, to fly a hawk, to hunt a 
stag, to play at chess, to wear love-locks, to put starch into a 
ruff, to touch the virginals, to read the Fairy Queen. Rules 


such as these, rules which would have appeared insupportable 
to the free and joyous spirit of Luther, and contemptible to the 
serene and philosophical intellect of Zwingle, threw over all 
life a more than monastic gloom. The learning and eloquence 
by which the great Reformers had been eminently distinguished, 
and to which they had been, in no small measure, indebted for 
their success, were regarded by the new school of Protestants 
with suspicion, if not with aversion. Some precisians had scru- 
ples about teaching the Latin grammar, because the names of 
Mars, Bacchus, and Apollo occurred in it. The fine arts were 
all but proscribed. The solemn peal of the organ was super- 
stitious. The light music of Ben Jonson's masques was disso- 
lute. Half the fine paintings in England were idolatrous, and 
the other half indecent. The extreme Puritan was at once 
known from other men by his gait, his garb, his lank hair, the 
sour solemnity of his face, the upturned white of his eyes, the 
nasal twang with which he spoke, and above all, by his peculiar 
dialect. He employed, on every occasion, the imagery and 
style of Scripture. Hebraisms violently introduced into the 
English language, and metaphors borrowed from the boldest 
lyric poetry of a remote age and country, and applied to the 
common concerns of English life, were the most striking pecu- 
liarities of this cant, which moved, not without cause, the de- 
rision both of Prelatists and libertines. 

Thus the political and religious schism which had originated 
in the sixteenth century was, during the first quarter of the seven- 
teenth century, constantly widening. Theories tending to Turk- 
ish despotism were in fashion at Whitehall. Theories tending 
to republicanism were in favour with a large portion of the 
House of Commons. The violent Prelatists who were, to a man, 
zealous for prerogative, and the violent Puritans who were, to 
a man, zealous for the privileges of Parliament, regarded each 
other with animosity more intense than that which, in the pre- 
ceding generation, had existed between Catholics and Protes- 

While the minds of men were in this state, the country, after 
a peace of many years, at length engaged in a war which re- 


quired strenuous exertions. This war hastened the approach of 
the great constitutional crisis. It was necessary that the King 
should have a large military force. He could not have such a 
force without money. He could not legally raise money with- 
out the consent of Parliament. It followed, therefore, that he 
either must administer the government in conformity with the 
sense of the House of Commons, or must venture on such a vio- 
lation of the fundamental laws of the land as had been unknown 
during several centuries. The Plantagenets and the Tudors 
had, it is true, occasionally supplied a deficiency in their revenue 
by a benevolence or a forced loan : but these expedients were 
always of a temporary nature. To meet the regular charge of 
a long war by regular taxation, imposed without the consent of 
the Estates of the realm, was a course which Henry the Eighth 
himself would not have dared to take. It seemed, therefore, that 
the decisive hour was approaching, and that the English Parlia- 
ment would soon either share the fate of the senates of the 
Continent, or obtain supreme ascendency in the state. 

Just at this conjuncture James died. Charles the First suc- 
ceeded to the throne. He had received from nature a far better 
understanding, a far stronger will, and a far keener and firmer 
temper than his father's. He had inherited his father's political 
theories, and was much more disposed than his father to carry 
them into practice. He was, like his father, a zealous Episco- 
palian. He was, moreover, what his father had never been, 
a zealous Arminian, and, though no Papist, liked a Papist much 
better than a Puritan. It would be unjust to deny that Charles 
had some of the qualities of a good, and even of a great prince. 
He wrote and spoke, not, like his father, with the exactness of 
a professor, but after the fashion of intelligent and well educa- 
ted gentlemen. His taste in literature and art was excellent, 
his manner dignified, though not gracious, his domestic life with- 
out blemish. Faithlessness was the chief cause of his disasters, 
and is the chief stain on his memory. He was, in truth, im- 
pelled by an incurable propensity to dark and crooked ways. It 
may seem strange that his conscience, which, on occasions of 
little moment, was sufficiently sensitive, should never have 


reproached him with this great vice. But there is reason to be- 
lieve that he was perfidious, not only from constitution and from 
habit, but also on principle. He seems to have learned from the 
theologians whom he most esteemed that between him and his 
subjects there could be nothing of the nature of mutual contract ; 
that he could not, even if he would, divest himself of his despotic 
authority ; and that, in every promise which be made, there 
was an implied reservation that such promise might be broken 
in case of necessity, and that of the necessity he was the sole 

And now began that hazardous game on which were staked 
the destinies of the English people. It was played on the side 
of the House of Commons with keenness, but with admirable 
dexterity, coolness, and perseverance. Great statesmen who 
looked far behind them and far before them were at the head of 
that assembly. They were resolved to place the King in such 
a situation that he must either conduct the administration in con- 
formity with the wishes of his Parliament, or make outrageous 
attacks on the most sacred principles of the constitution. They 
accordingly doled out supplies to him very sparingly. He found 
that he must govern either in harmony with the House of Com- 
mons, or in defiance of all law. His choice was soon made. 
He dissolved his first Parliament, and levied taxes by his own 
authority. He convoked a second Parliament, and found it 
more intractable than the first. He again resorted to the expe- 
dient of dissolution, raised fresh taxes without any show of 
legal right, and threw the chiefs of the opposition into prison. At 
the same time a new grievance, which the peculiar feelings and 
habits of the English nation made insupportably painful, and 
which seemed to all discerning men to be of fearful augury, ex- 
cited general discontent and alarm. Companies of soldiers were 
billeted on the people j and martial law was, in some places, 
substituted for the ancient jurisprudence of the realm. 

The King called a third Parliament, and soon perceived that 
the opposition was stronger and fiercer than ever. He now de- 
termined on a change of tactics. Instead of opposing an inflex- 
ible resistance to the demands of the Commons, he, after much 


altercation and many evasions, agreed to a compromise which, 
if he had faithfully adhered to it, would have averted a long 
series of calamities. The Parliament granted an ample supply. 
The King ratified, in the most solemn manner, that celebrated 
law, which is known by the name of the Petition of Right, and 
which is the second Great Charter of the liberties of England. 
By ratifying that law he bound himself never again to raise 
money without the consent of the Houses, never again to im- 
prison any person, except in due course of law, and never again 
to subject his people to the jurisdiction of courts martial. 

The day on which the royal sanction was, after many de- 
lays, solemnly given to this great Act, was a day of joy and 
hope. The Commons, who crowded the bar of the House of 
Lords, broke forth into loud acclamations as soon as the clerk 
had pronounced the ancient form of words by which our princes 
have, during many ages, signified their assent to the wishes of 
the Estates of the realm. Those acclamations were reechoed 
by the voice of the capital and of the nation ; but within three 
weeks it became manifest that Charles had no intention of ob- 
serving the compact into which he had entered. The supply 
given by the representatives of the nation was collected. The 
promise by which that supply had been obtained was broken. 
A violent contest followed. The Parliament was dissolved with 
every mark of royal displeasure. Some of the most distinguished 
members were imprisoned ; and one of them, Sir John Eliot, 
after years of suffering, died in confinement. 

Charles, however, could not venture to raise, by his own 
authority, taxes sufficient for carrying on war. He accordingly 
hastened to make peace with his neighbours, and thenceforth 
gave his whole mind to British politics. 

Now commenced a new era. Many English Kings had oc- 
casionally committed unconstitutional acts : but none had ever 
systematically attempted to make himself a despot, and to re- 
duce the Parliament to a nullity. Such was the end which 
Charles distinctly proposed to himself. From March 1G29 to 
April 1G40, the Houses were not convoked. Never in our his- 
tory had there been an interval of eleven years between Parlia- 


ment and Parliament. Only once had there been an interval of 
even half that length. This fact alone is sufficient to refute 
those who represent Charles as having merely trodden in the 
footsteps of the Plantagenets and Tudors. 

It is proved, by the testimony of the King's most strenuous 
supporters, that, during this part of his reign, the provisions of 
the Petition of Right were violated by him, not occasionally, 
but constantly, and on system ; that a large part of the revenue 
was raised without any legal authority ; and that persons ob- 
noxious to the government languished for years in prison, with- 
out being ever called upon to plead before any tribunal. 

For these things history must hold the King himself chiefly 
responsible. From the time of his third Parliament he was his 
own prime minister. Several persons, however, whoso temper 
and talents were suited to his purposes, were at the head of dif- 
ferent departments of the administration. 

Thomas "Wentworth, successively created Lord TTentwcrth 
and Earl of Strafford, a man of great abilities, eloquence, and 
courage, but of a cruel and imperious nature, was the counsellor 
most trusted in political and military affairs. He had been one 
of the most distinguished members of the opposition, and felt 
towards those whom he had deserted that peculiar malignity 
which has, in all ages, been characteristic of apostates. lie 
perfectly understood the feelings, the resources, and the policy 
of the party to which he had lately belonged, and had formed 
a vast and deeply meditated scheme which very nearly con- 
founded even the able tactics of the statesmen by whom the 
House of Commons had been directed. To this scheme, in his 
confidential correspondence, he gave the expressive name of 
Thorough. His object was to do in England all, and more than 
all, that Richelieu was doing in France ; to make Charles a 
monarch as absolute as any on the Continent ; to put the estates 
and the personal liberty of the whole people at the disposal of 
the crown ; to deprive the courts of law of all independent au- 
thority, even in ordinary questions of civil right between man 
and man; and to punish with merciless rigour all who mur- 
mured at the acts of the government, or who applied, even in 


the most decent and regular manner, to any tribunal for relief 
against those acts.* 

This was his end ; and he distinctly saw in what manner 
alone this end could be attained. There was, in truth, about all 
his notions a clearness, a coherence, a precision, which, if he 
had not been pursuing an object pernicious to his country and 
to his kind, would have justly entitled him to high admiration. 
He saw that there was one instrument, and only one, by which 
his vast and daring projects could be carried into execution. 
That instrument was a standing army. To the forming of such 
an army, therefore, he directed all the energy of his strong 
mind. In Ireland, where he was viceroy, he actually succeeded 
in establishing a military despotism, not only over the aborigi- 
nal population, but also over the English colonists, and was 
able to boast that, in that island, the King was as absolute as 
any prince in the whole world could be.f 

The ecclesiastical administration was, in the meantime, prin- 
cipally directed by William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. 
Of all the prelates of the Anglican Church, Laud had departed 
farthest from the principles of the Reformation, and had drawn 
nearest to Rome. His theology was more remote than even 
that of the Dutch Arminians from the theology of the Calvinists. 
His passion for ceremonies, his reverence for holidays, vigils, 
and sacred places, his ill concealed dislike of the marriage of 
ecclesiastics, the ardent and not altogether disinterested zeal 
with which he asserted the claims of the clergy to the reverence 
of the laity, would have made him an object of aversion to the 
Puritans, even if he had used only legal and gentle means for 
the attainment of his ends. But his understanding was narrow ; 
and his commerce with the world had been small. He was by 

* The correspondence of Wentworth seems to me fully to bear out what I have 
eaid in the text. To transcribe all the passages which have led me to the conclu- 
sion at which I have arrived, would be impossible ; nor would it be easy to make 
a better selection than has already been made by Mr. Hallam. I may, however, 
direct the attention of the reader particularly to the very able paper which Went- 
worth drew up respecting the affairs of the Palatinate. The date is March 31, 

t These are Wentworth's own words. See his letter to Laud, dated Dec. 16, 


nature rash, irritable, quick to feel for his own dignity, slow to 
sympathise with the sufferings of others, and prone to the error, 
common in superstitious men, of mistaking his own peevish 
and malignant moods for emotions of pious zeal. Under his di- 
rection every corner of the realm was subjected to a constant 
and minute inspection. Every little congregation of separatists 
was tracked out and broken up. Even the devotions of private 
families could not escape the vigilance of his spies. Such fear 
did his rigour inspire that the deadly hatred of the Church, 
which festered in innumerable bosoms, was generally disguised 
under an outward show of conformity. On the very eve of 
troubles, fatal to himself and to his order, the Bishops of several 
extensive dioceses were able to report to him that not a single 
dissenter was to be found within their jurisdiction. # 

The tribunals afforded no protection to the subject against the 
civil and ecclesiastical tyranny of that period. The judges of 
the common law, holding their situations during the pleasure of 
the King, were scandalously obsequious. Yet, obsequious as they 
were, they were less ready and less efficient instruments of 
arbitrary power than a class of courts, the memory of which is 
still, after the lapse of more than two centuries, held in deep 
abhorrence by the nation. Foremost among these courts in 
power and in infamy were the Star Chamber and the High 
Commission, the former a political, the latter a religious inqui- 
sition. Neither was a part of the old constitution of England. 
The Star Chamber had been remodelled, and the High Commis- 
sion created, by the Tudors. The power which these boards 
had possessed before the accession of Charles had been extensive 
and formidable, but had been small indeed when compared with 
that which they now usurped. Guided chiefly by the violent 
spirit of the primate, and freed from the control of Parliament, 
the}'' displayed a rapacity, a violence, a malignant energy, which 
had been unknown to any former age. The government was 
able through their instrumentality, to fine, imprison, pillory, 
and mutilate without restraint. A separate council which sate 

* See his report to Charles for the year 1G39. 


at York, under the presidency of Wentworth, was armed, in de- 
fiance of law, by a pure act of prerogative, with almost bound- 
less power over the northern counties. All these tribunals in- 
sulted and defied the authority of Westminster Hall, and daily 
committed excesses which the most distinguished Royalists have 
warmly condemned. We are informed by Clarendon that there 
was hardly a man of note in the realm who had not personal 
experience of the harshness and greediness of the Star Chamber, 
that the Hiffh Commission had so conducted itself that it had 
scarce a friend left in the kingdom, and that the tyranny of the 
Council of York had made the Great Charter a dead letter on 
the north of the Trent. 

The government of England was now, in all points but one, 
as despotic as that of France. But that one point was all im- 
portant. There was still no standing army. There was therefore, 
no security that the whole fabric of tyranny might not be sub- 
verted in a single day ; and, if taxes were imposed by the royal 
authority for the support of an army, it was probable that there 
would be an immediate and irresistible explosion. This was 
the difficulty which more than any other perplexed Wentworth* 
The Lord Keeper Finch, in concert with other lawyers who 
were employed by the government, recommended an expedient 
which was eagerly adopted. The ancient princes of England, 
as they called on the inhabitants of the counties near Scotland 
to arm and array themselves for the defence of the border, had 
sometimes called on the maritime counties to furnish ships for 
the defence of the coast. In the room of ships money had 
sometimes been accepted. This old practice it was now deter- 
mined, after a long interval, not only to revive but to extend. 
Former princes had raised shipmoney only in time of war : it 
was now exacted in a time of profound peace. Former princes, 
even in the most perilous wars, had raised shipmoney only 
along the coasts : it -was now exacted from the inland shires. 
Former princes had raised shipmoney only for the maritime 
defence of the country : it was now exacted, by the admission 
of the Royalists themselves, with the object, not of maintaining 
a navy, but of furnishing the King with supplies which might 


be increased at his discretion to any amount, and expended at 
his discretion for any purpose. 

The whole nation was alarmed and incensed. John Hamp- 
den, an opulent and well born gentleman of Buckinghamshire, 
highly considered in his own neighbourhood, but as yet little 
known to the kingdom generally, had the courage to step for- 
ward, to confront the whole power of the government, aud take 
on himself the cost and the risk of disputing the prerogative 
to which the King laid claim. The case was argued before the 
judges in the Exchequer Chamber. So strong were the argu- 
ments against the pretensions of the crown that, dependent and 
servile as the judges were, the majority against Hampden was 
the smallest possible. Still there was a majority. The inter- 
preters of the law had pronounced that one great and produc- 
tive tax might be imposed by the royal authority. .Wentworth 
justly observed that it was impossible to vindicate their judg- 
ment except by reasons directly leading to a conclusion which 
they had not ventured to draw. If money might legally be 
raised without the consent of Parliament for the support of a 
fleet, it was not easy to deny that money might, without con- 
sent of Parliament, be legally raised for the support of an 

The decision of the judges increased the irritation of 
the people. A century earlier, irritation less serious would 
have produced a general rising. But discontent did not 
now so readily as in an earlier age take the form of rebel- 
lion. The nation had been long steadily advancing in wealth 
and in civilisation. Since the great northern Earls took up 
arms against Elizabeth seventy years had elapsed ; and during 
those seventy years there had been no civil war. Never, dur- 
ing the whole existence of the English nation, had so long a 
period passed without intestine hostilities. Men had become 
accustomed to the pursuits of peaceful industry, and, exasperated 
as they were, hesitated long before they drew the sword. 

This was the conjuncture at which the liberties of the na- 
tion were in the greatest peril. The opponents of the govern- 
ment began to despair of the destiny of their couutry ; and 


many looked to the American wilderness as the only asylum in 
which they could enjoy civil and spiritual freedom. There a 
few resolute Puritans, who, in the cause of their religion, feared 
neither the rage of the ocean nor the hardships of uncivilised 
life, neither the fangs of savage beasts nor the tomahawks of 
more savage men, had built, amidst the primeval forests, vil- 
lages which are now great and opulent cities, but which have, 
through . every change, retained some trace of the character 
derived from their founders. The government regarded these 
infant colonies with aversion, and attempted violently to stop 
the stream of emigration, but could not prevent the population 
of New England from being largely recruited by stouthearted 
and Godfearing men from every part of the old England. 
And now Wentworth exulted in the near prospect of Thorough. 
A few years might probably suffice for the execution of his great 
design. If strict economy were observed, if all collision with 
foreign powers were carefully avoided, the debts of the crown 
would be cleared off : there would be funds available for the 
support of a large military force ; and that force would soon 
break the refractory spirit of the nation. 

At this crisis an act of insane bigotry suddenly changed the 
whole face of public affairs. Had the King been wise, he 
would have pursued a cautious and soothing policy towards 
Scotland till he was master in the South. For Scotland was of 
all his kingdoms that in which there was the greatest risk that 
a spark might produce a flame, and that a flame might become 
a conflagration. Constitutional opposition, indeed, such as he 
had encountered at Westminster, he had not to apprehend at 
Edinburgh. The Parliament of his northern kingdom was a 
very different body from that which «bore the same name in 
England. It was ill constituted : it was little considered ; and 
it had never imposed any serious restraint on any of his prede- 
cessors. The three Estates sate in one house. The commis- 
sioners of the burghs were considered merely as retainers of the 
great nobles. No act could be introduced till it had been 
approved by the Lords of Articles, a committee which was 
really, though not in form, nominated by the crown. But, 


though the Scottish Parliament was obsequious, the Scottish 
people had always been singularly turbulent and ungovernable. 
They had butchered their first James in his bedchamber : they 
had repeatedly arrayed themselves in arms against James the 
Second ; they had slain James the Third on the field of battle : 
their disobedience had broken the heart of James the Fifth : 
they had deposed and imprisoned Mary : they had led her son 
captive ; and their temper was still as intractable as ever. 
Their habits were rude and martial. All along the southern 
border, and all along the line between the highlands and the 
lowlands, raged an incessant predatory war. In every part of 
the country men were accustomed to redress their wrongs by 
the strong hand. Whatever loyalty the nation had anciently 
felt to the Stuarts had cooled during their long absence. The 
supreme influence over the public mind was divided between 
two classes of malecontents, the lords of the soil and the 
preachers ; lords animated by the same spirit which had often 
impelled the old Douglasses to withstand the royal house, and 
preachers who had inherited the republican opinions and the 
unconquerable spirit of Knox. Both the national and religious 
feelings of the population had been wounded. All orders of 
men complained that their country, that country which had, with 
so much glory, defended her independence against the ablest and 
bravest Plantagenets, had, through the instrumentality of her 
native princes, become in effect, though not in name, a province 
of England. In no part of Europe had the Calvinistic doctrine 
and discipline taken so strong a hold on the public mind. The 
Church of Rome was regarded by the great body of the people 
with a hatred which might justly be called ferocious ; and the 
Church of England, which seemed to be every day becoming 
more and more like the Church of Rome, was an object of 
scarcely less aversion. 

The government had long wished to extend the Anglican 
system over the whole island, and had already, with this view, 
made several changes highly distasteful to every Presbyterian. 
One innovation, however, the most hazardous of all, because it 
was directly cognisable by the senses of the common people, 


had not yet been attempted. The- public worship of God was 
still conducted in the manner acceptable to the nation. Now, 
however, Charles and Laud determined to force on the Scots 
the English liturgy, or rather a liturgy which, wherever it 
differed from that of England, differed, in the judgment of all 
riffid Protestants, for the worse. 

To this step, taken in the mere wantonness of tyranny, and 
in criminal ignorance or more criminal contempt of public 
feeling, our country owes her freedom. The first performance 
of the foreign ceremonies produced a riot. The riot rapidly 
became a revolution. Ambition, patriotism, fanaticism, were 
mingled in one headlong torrent. The whole nation was in 
arms. The power of England was indeed, as appeared some 
years later, sufficient to coerce Scotland : but a large part of the 
English people sympathised with the religious feelings of the 
insurgents ; and many Englishmen who had no scruple about 
antiphonies and genuflexions, altars and surplices, saw with 
pleasure the progress of a rebellion which seemed likely to 
confound the arbitrary projects of the court, and to make the 
calling of a Parliament necessary. 

Eor the senseless freak which had produced these effects 
Wentworth is not responsible.* It had, in fact, thrown all his 
plans into confusion. To counsel submission, however, was not 
in his nature. An attempt was made to put down the insurrec- 
tion by the sword : but the King's military means and military 
talents were unequal to the task. To impose fresh taxes on 
England in defiance of law, would, at this conjuncture, have 
been madness. No resource was left but a Parliament ; and 
in the spring of 1G40 a Parliament was convoked. 

The nation had been put into good humour by the prospect 
of seeing constitutional government restored, and grievances 
redressed. The new House of Commons was more temperate 
and more respectful to the throne than any which had sate 
since the death of Elizabeth. The moderation of this assembly 
has been highly extolled by the most distinguished Royalists, 
and seems to have caused no small vexation and disappointment 
* See his letter to the Earl of Northumberland, dated July 30, 1638- 



to the chiefs of the opposition : but it was the uniform practice 
of Charles, a practice equally impolitic and ungenerous, to re- 
fuse all compliance with the desires of his people, till those 
desires were expressed in a menacing tone. As soon as the 
Commons showed a disposition to take into consideration the 
grievances under which the country had suffered during eleven 
years, the King dissolved the Parliament with every mark of 

Between the dissolution of this shortlived assembly and the 
meeting of that ever memorable body known by the name of 
the Long Parliament, intervened a few months, during which 
the yoke was pressed down more severely than ever on the na- 
tion, while the spirit of the nation rose up more angrily than 
ever against the yoke. Members of. the House of Commons 
were questioned by the Privy Council touching their parliamen- 
tary conduct, and thrown into prison for refusing to reply. 
Shipinoney was levied with increased rigour. The Lord Mayor 
and the Sheriffs of London were threatened with imprisonment 
for remissness in collecting the payments. Soldiers were en- 
listed by force. Money for their support was exacted from their 
counties. Torture, which had always been illegal, and which 
had recently been declare! illegal even by the servile judges of 
that age, was inflicted for the last time in England in the month 
of May, 1610. 

Everything now depended on the event of the King's mili- 
tary operations against the Scots. Among his troops there was 
little of that feeling which separates professional soldiers from 
the mass of a nation, and attaches them to their leaders. His 
army, composed for the most part of recruits, who regretted the 
plough from which they had been violently taken, and who 
were imbued with the religious and political sentiments then 
prevalent throughout the country, was more formidable to him- 
self than to the enemy. The Scots, encouraged by the heads 
of the English opposition, and feebly resisted by the English 
forces, marched across the Tweed and the Tyne, and encamped 
on the borders of Yorkshire. And now the murmurs of dis- 
content swelled into a:i uproar by which all spirits save one 


were overawed. But the voice of Strafford was still for 
Thorough ; and he even, in this extremity, showed a nature so 
cruel and despotic, that his own pikemen were ready to tear him 
in pieces. 

There was yet one last expedient which, as the King flat- 
tered himself, might save him from the misery of facing another 
House of Commons. To the House of Lords he was less 
averse. The Bishops were devoted to him ; and though the 
temporal peers were generally dissatisfied with his administra- 
tion, they were, as a class, so deeply interested in the mainte- 
nance of order, and in the stability of ancient institutions, that 
they were not likely to call for extensive reforms. Departing 
from the uninterrupted practice of centuries, he called a Great 
Council consisting of Lords alone. But the Lords were too 
prudent to assume the unconstitutional functions with which he 
wished to invest them. Without money, without credit, with- 
out authority even in his own camp, he yielded to the pressure 
of necessity. The Houses were convoked ; and the elections 
proved that, since the spring, the distrust and hatred with which 
the government was regarded had made fearful progress. 

In November, 1640, met that renowned Parliament which, 
in spite of many errors and disasters, is justly entitled to the 
reverence and gratitude of all who, in any part of the world, 
enjoy the blessings of constitutional government. 

During the year which followed, no very important division 
of opinion appeared in the Houses. The civil and ecclesiasti- 
cal administration had, through a period of nearly twelve years, 
been so oppressive and so unconstitutional that even those 
classes of which the inclinations are generally on the side of 
order and authority were eager to promote popular reforms, 
and to bring the instruments of tyranny to justice. It was en- 
acted that no interval of more than three years should ever 
elapse between Parliament and Parliament, and that, if writs 
under the Great Seal were not issued at the proper time, the 
returning officers should, without such writs, call the constit- 
uent bodies together for the choice of representatives. The 
Star Chamber, the High Commission, the Council of York were 



swept away. Men who, after suffering cruel mutilations, had 
been confined in remote dungeons, regained their liberty. On 
the chief ministers of the crown the vengeance of the nation 
was unsparingly wreaked. The Lord Keeper, the Primate, the 
Lord Lieutenant were impeached. Finch saved himself by 
flight. Laud was flung into the Tower. Strafford was put to 
death by act of attainder. On the day on which this act passed, 
the King gave his assent to a law by which he bound himself 
not to adjourn, prorogue, or dissolve the existing Parliament 
without its own consent. 

After ten months of assiduous toil, the Houses, in Septem- 
ber 1641, adjourned for a short vacation ; and the King visited 
Scotland. He with difficulty pacified that kingdom by consent- 
ing, not only to relinquish his plans of ecclesiastical reform, 
but even to pass, with a very bad grace, an act declaring that 
episcopacy was contrary to the word of God. 

The recess of the English Parliament lasted six weeks. 
The day on which the Houses met again is one of the most 
remarkable epochs in our history. From that day dates the 
corporate existence of the two great parties which have ever 
since alternately governed the country. In one sense, indeed, 
the distinction which then became obvious had always existed, 
and always must exist. For it has its origin in diversities of 
temper, of understanding, and of interest, which are found in 
all societies, and which will be found till the human mind ceases 
to be drawn in opposite directions by the charm of habit and 
by the charm of novelty. Not only in politics but in literature, 
in art, in science, in surgery and mechanics, in navigation and 
agriculture, nay, even in mathematics, we find this distinction. 
Everywhere there is a class of men who cling with fondness to 
whatever is ancient, and who, even when convinced by over- 
powering reasons that innovation would be beneficial, consent 
to it with manv misgivings and forebodings. W r e find also 
everywhere another class of men, sanguine in hope, bold in 
speculation, always pressing forward, quick to discern the im- 
perfections of whatever exists, disposed to think lightly of the 
risks and inconveniences which attend improvements and dis- 


posed to give every change credit for being an improvement. 
In the sentiments of both classes there is something to approve. 
But of both the best specimens will be found not far from the 
common frontier. The extreme section of one class consists 
of bigoted dotards : the extreme section of the other consists of 
shallow and reckless empirics. 

There can be no doubt that in our very first Parliaments 
might have been discerned a body of members anxious to pre- 
serve, and a body eager to reform. But, while the sessions of 
the legislature were short, these bodies did not take definite 
and permanent forms, array themselves under recognised leaders, 
or assume distinguishing names, badges, and war cries. During 
the first months of the Long Parliament, the indignation excited 
by many years of lawless oppression was so strong and general 
that the House of Commons acted as one man. Abuse after 
abuse disappeared without a struggle. If a small minority of 
the representative body wished to retain the Star Chamber and 
the High Commission, that minority, overawed by the enthusiasm 
and by the numerical superiority of the reformers, contented 
itself with secretly regretting institutions which could not, with 
any hope of success, be openly defended. At a later period the 
Royalists found it convenient to antedate the separation between 
themselves and their opponents, and to attribute the Act which 
restrained the King from dissolving or proroguing the Parlia- 
ment, the Triennial Act, the impeachment of the ministers, and 
the attainder of Strafford, to the faction which afterwards made 
war on the King. But no artifice could be more disingenuous. 
Every one of those strong measures was actively promoted by 
the men who were afterwards foremost among the Cavaliers. 
No republican spoke of the long misgovernment of Charles 
more severely than Colepepper. The most remarkable speech 
in favour of the Triennial Bill was made by Digby. The im- 
peachment of the Lord Keeper was moved by Falkland. The 
demand that the Lord Lieutenant should be kept close prisoner 
was made at the bar of the Lords by Hyde. Not till the law 
attainting Strafford was proposed did the signs of serious dis- 
union become visible. Even against that law, a law which 


nothing but extreme necessity could justify, only about sixty 
members of the House of Commons voted. It is certain that 
Hyde was not in the minority, and that Falkland not only 
voted with the majority, but spoke strongly for the bill. Even 
the few who entertained a scruple about inflicting death by a 
retrospective enactment thought it necessary to express the 
utmost abhorrence of Strafford's character and administration. 

But under this apparent concord a great schism was latent ; 
and when, in October, 1641, the Parliament reassembled after 
a short recess, two hostile parties, essentially the same with those 
which, under different names, have ever since contended, and are 
still contending, for the direction of public affairs, appeared con- 
fronting each other. During some years they were designated 
as Cavaliers and Roundheads. They were subsequently called 
Tories and Whigs ; nor does it seem that these appellations are 
likely soon to become obsolete. 

It would not be difficult to compose a lampoon or panegyric 
on either of these renowned factions. For no man not utterly 
destitute of judgment and candor will deny that there are many 
deep stains on the fame of the party to which he belongs, or that 
the party to which he is opposed may justly boast of many illus- 
trious names', of many heroic actions, and of many great services 
rendered to the state. The truth is that, though both parties 
have often seriously erred, England could have spared neither. 
If, in her institutions, freedom and order, the advantages arising 
from innovation and the advantages arising from prescription, 
have been combined to an extent elsewhere unknown, we may 
attribute this happy peculiarity to the strenuous conflicts and al- 
ternate victories of two rival confederacies of statesmen, a con- 
federacy zealous for authority and antiquity, and a confederacy 
zealous for liberty and progress. 

It ouo-ht to be remembered that the difference between the 
two great sections of English politicians has always been a dif- 
ference rather of degree than of principle. There were certain 
limits on the right and on the left, which were very rarely over- 
stepped. A few enthusiasts on one side were ready to lay all 
our laws and franchises at the feet of our Kings. A few enthu- 


siasts on the other side were bent on pursuing, through endless 
civil troubles, their darling phantom of a republic. But the 
great majority of those who fought for the crown were averse to 
despotism ; and the great majority of the champions of popular 
rights were averse to anarchy. ' Twice, in the course of the sev- 
enteenth century, the two parties suspended their dissensions, 
and united their strength in a common cause. Their first coa- 
lition restored hereditary monarchy. Their second coalition res- 
cued constitutional freedom. 

It is also to be noted that these two parties have never been 
the whole nation, nay, that they have never, taken together, 
made up a majority of the nation. Between them has always 
been a great mass, which has not steadfastly adhered to either, 
which has sometimes remained inertly neutral, and which has 
sometimes oscillated to and fro. That mass has more than once 
passed in a few years from one extreme to the other, and back 
again. Sometimes it has changed sides, merely because it was 
tired of supporting the same men, sometimes because it was dis- 
mayed by its own excesses, sometimes because it had expected 
impossibilities, and had been disappointed. But whenever it 
has leaned with its whole weight in either direction, that weight 
has, for the time, been irresistible. 

When the rival parties first appeared in a distinct form, they 
seemed to be not unequally matched. On the side of the 
government was a large majority of the nobles, and of those op- 
ulent and well descended gentlemen to whom nothing was want- 
ing of nobility but the name. These, with the dependents whose 
support they could command, were no small power in the state. 
On the same side were the great body of the clergy, both the 
Universities, and all those laymen who were strongly attached 
to episcopal government and to the Anglican ritual. These 
respectable classes found themselves in the company of some 
allies much less decorous than themselves. The Puritan aus- 
terity drove to the King's faction all who made pleasure their 
business, who affected gallantry, splendour of dress, or taste in 
the higher arts. With these went all who live by amusing the 
leisure of others, from the painter and the comic poet, down to 


the ropedancer and the Merry Andrew. For these artists well 
knew that they might thrive under a superb and luxurious des- 
potism, but must starve under the rigid rule of the precisians. 
In the same interest were the Roman Catholics to a man. The 
Queen, a daughter of France, waS of their own faith. Her hus- 
band was known to be strongly attached to her, and not a little 
in awe of her. Though undoubtedly a Protestant on conviction, 
he regarded the professors of the old religion with no ill-will, 
and would gladly have granted them a much larger toleration 
than he was disposed to concede to the Presbyterians. If the 
opposition obtained the mastery, it was probable that the san- 
guinary laws enacted against Papists, in the reign of Elizabeth, 
would be severely enforced. The Roman Catholics were there- 
fore induced by the strongest motives to espouse the cause of 
the court. They in general acted with a caution which brought 
on them the reproach of cowardice and lukewarmness ; but it is 
probable that, in maintaining great reserve, they consulted the 
King's interest as well as their own. It was not for his service 
that they should be conspicuous among his friends. 

The main strength of the opposition lay among the small 
freeholders in the country, and among the merchants and shop- 
keepers of the towns. But these were headed by a formidable 
minority of the aristocracy, a minority which included the rich 
and powerful Earls of Northumberland, Bedford, Warwick, 
Stamford, and Essex, and several other Lords of great wealth 
and influence. In the same ranks was found the whole body 
of Protestant Nonconformists, and most of those members of 
the Established Church who still adhered to the Calvinistic 
opinions which, forty years before, had been generally held by 
the prelates and clergy. The municipal corporations took, with 
few exceptions, the same side. In the House of Commons the 
opposition preponderated, but not very decidedly. 

Neither party wanted strong arguments for the course which 
it was disposed to take. The reasoninga of the most enlightened 
Royalists may be summed up thus : — " It is true that great 
abuses have existed ; but they have been redressed. It is true 
that precious rights have been invaded ; but they have been 


vindicated and surrounded with new securities. The sittings of 
the Estates of the realm have been, in defiance of all precedent 
and of the spirit of the constitution, intermitted during eleven 
years ; but it has now been provided that henceforth three years 
shall never elapse without a Parliament. The Star Chamber, 
the High Commission, the Council of York, oppressed and plun- 
dered us ; but those hateful courts have now ceased to exist. 
The Lord Lieutenant aimed at establishing military despotism ; 
but he has answered for his treason with his head. The Pri- 
mate tainted our worship with Popish rites and punished our 
scruples with Popish cruelty ; but he is awaiting in the Tower 
the judgment of his peers. The Lord Keeper sanctioned a plan 
by which the property of every man in England was placed at 
the mercy of the Crown ; but he has been disgraced, ruined, and 
compelled to take refuge in a foreign land. The ministers of 
tyranny have expiated their crimes. The victims of tyranny 
have been compensated for their sufferings. It would therefore 
be most unwise to persevere further in that course which was 
justifiable and necessary when we first met, after a long interval, 
and found the whole administration one mass of abuses. It is 
time to take heed that we do not so pursue our victory over 
despotism as to run into anarchy. It was not in our power to 
overturn the bad institutions which lately afflicted our country, 
without shocks which have loosened the foundations of govern- 
ment. Now that those institutions have fallen, we must ha; t3ii 
to prop the edifice which it was lately our duty to batter. 
Henceforth it will be our wisdom to look with jealousy on 
schemes of innovation, and to guard from encroachment all the 
prerogatives with which the law has, for the public good, armed 
the sovereign." 

Such were the views of those men of whom the excellent 
Falkland may be regarded as the leader. It was contended on 
the other side with not less force, by men of not less ability 
and virtue, that the safety which the liberties of the English 
people enjoyed was rather apparent than real, and that the 
arbitrary projects of the court would be resumed as soon as the 
vigilance of the Commons was relaxed. True it was, — such was 


the reasoning of Pym, of Hollis, and of Hampden. — that many 
good laws had been passed : but, if good laws had been sufficient 
to restrain the King, his subjects would have had little reason 
ever to complain of his administration. The recent statutes 
were surely not of more authority than the Great Charter or 
the Petition of Right. Yet neither the Great Charter, hal- 
lowed by the veneration of four centuries, nor the Petition of 
Right, sanctioned, after mature reflection, and for valuable con- 
sideration, by Charles himself, had been found effectual for the 
protection of the people. If once the check of fear were with- 
drawn, if once the spirit of opposition were suffered to slumber, 
all the securities for English freedom resolved themselves into 
a single one, the royal word ; and it had been proved by a long 
and severe experience that the royal word could not be trusted. 
The two parties were still regarding each other with cau- 
tious hostility, and had not yet measured their strength, wnen 
news arrived which inflamed the passions and confirmed the 
opinions of both. The great chieftains of Ulster, who, at the 
time of the accession of James, had, after a long struggle, sub- 
mitted to the royal authority, had not long brooked the humili- 
ation of dependence. They had conspired against the English 
government, and had been attainted of treason. Their immense 
domains had been forfeited to the crown, and had soon been 
peopled by thousands of English and Scotch emigrants. The 
new settlers were, in civilisation and intelligence, far superior 
to the native population, and sometimes abused their superiority. 
The animosity produced by difference of race was increased by 
difference of religion. Under the iron rule of Wentworth, 
scarcely a murmur was heard : but, when that strong pressure 
was withdrawn, when Scotland had set the example of success- 
ful resistance, when England was distracted by internal quarrels, 
the smothered ra^e of the Irish broke forth into acts of fearful 
violence. On a sudden, the aboriginal population rose on the 
colonists. A war, to which national and theological hatred 
gave a character of peculiar ferocity, desolated Ulster, and 
spread to the neighbouring provinces. The castle of Dublin 
was scarcely thought secure. Every post brought to London 


exaggerated accounts of outrages which, without any exag- 
geration, were sufficient to move pity and horror. These evil 
tidings roused to the height the zeal of both the great parties 
which were marshalled against each other at Westminster. The 
Royalists maintained that it was the first duty of every good 
Englishman and Protestant, at such a crisis, to strengthen the 
hands of the sovereign. To the opposition it seemed that there 
were now stronger reasons than ever for thwarting and restrain- 
ing him. That the commonwealth was in danger was undoubt- 
edly a good reason for giving large powers to a trustworthy 
magistrate : but it was a good reason for taking away powers 
from a magistrate who was at heart a public enemy. To raise a 
great army had always been the King's first object. A great 
army must now be raised. It was to be feared that, unless some 
new securities were devised, the forces levied for the reduction 
of Ireland would be employed against the liberties of England. 
Nor was this all. A horrible suspicion, unjust indeed, but not 
altogether unnatural, had arisen in many minds. The Queen 
was an avowed Roman Catholic : the King was not regarded 
by the Puritans, whom he had mercilessly persecuted, as a 
sincere Protestant ; and so notorious was his duplicity, that 
there was no treachery of which his subjects might not, with 
some show of reason, believe him capable. It was soon 
whispered that the rebellion of the Roman Catholics of Ulster 
was part of a vast work of darkness which had been planned at 

After some weeks of prelude, the first great parliamentary 
conflict between the parties, which have ever since contended, 
and are still contending, for the government of the nation, took 
place on the twenty-second of November, 1641. It was moved 
by the opposition, that the House of Commons should present 
to the Kin£ a remonstrance, enumerating the faults of his 
administration from the time of his accession, and expressing 
the distrust with which his policy was still regarded by his 
people. That assembly, which a iew months before had been 
unanimous in calling for the reform of abuses, was now divided 
into two fierce and eager factions of nearly equal strength. 


After a hot debate of many hours, the remonstrance was carried 
by only eleven votes. 

The result of this struggle was highly favourable to the 
conservative party. It could not be doubted that only some 
great indiscretion could prevent them from shortly obtaining the 
predominance in the Lower House. The Upper House was 
already their own. Nothing was wanting to ensure their suc- 
cess, but that the King should, in all his conduct, show respect 
for the laws and scrupulous good faith towards his subjects. 

His first measures promised well. He had, it seemed, at 
last discovered that an entire change of system was necessary, 
and had wisely made up his mind to what could no longer be 
avoided. He declared his determination to govern in harmony 
with the Commons, and, for that end, to call to his councils men 
in whose talents and character the Commons might place con- 
fidence. Nor was the selection ill made. Falkland, Hyde, and 
Colepepper, all three distinguished by the part which they had 
taken in reforming abuses and in punishing evil ministers, were 
invited to become the confidential advisers of the Crown, and 
were solemnly assured by Charles that he would take no step 
in any way affecting the Lower House of Parliament without 
their privity. 

Had he kept this promise, it cannot be doubted that the 
reaction which was already in progress would very soon have 
become quite as strong as the most respectable Royalists would 
have desired. Already the violent members of the opposition 
had begun to despair of the fortunes of their party, to tremble 
for tfieir own safety, and to talk of selling their estates and 
emigrating to America. That the fair prospects which had 
begun to open before the King were suddenly overcast, that his 
life was darkened by adversity, and at length shortened by 
violence, is to be attributed to his own faithlessness and con- 
tempt of law. 

The truth seems to be that he detested both the parties into 
which the House of Commons was divided : nor is this strange ; 
for in both those parties the love of liberty and the love of or- 
der were mingled, though in different proportions. The advis- 


ers whom necessity had compelled him to call round him were 
by no means after his own heart. They had joined in condemn- 
ing his tyranny, in abridging his power, and in punishing his 
instruments. They were now indeed prepared to defend in a 
strictly legal way his strictly legal prerogative ; but they would 
have recoiled with horror from the thought of reviving Went- 
worth's projects of Thorough. They were, therefore, in the 
King's opinion, traitors, who differed only in the degree of their 
seditious malignity from Pym and Hampden. 

He accordingly, a few days after he had promised the chiefs 
of the constitutional Royalists that no step of importance should 
be taken without their knowledge, formed a resolution the most 
momentous of his whole life, carefully concealed that resolution 
from them, and executed it in a manner which overwhelmed 
them with shame and dismay. He sent the Attorney General 
to impeach Pym, Plollis, Hampden, and other members of the 
House of Commons of high treason at the bar of the House of 
Lords. Not content with this flagrant violation of the Great 
Charter and of the uninterrupted practice of centuries, he went 
in person, accompanied by armed men, to seize the leaders of 
the opposition within the walls of Parliament. 

The attempt failed. The accused members had left the 
House a short time before Charles entered it. A sudden and 
violent revulsion of feeling, both in the Parliament and in the 
country, followed. The most favourable view that has ever been 
taken of the King's conduct on this occasion by his most partial 
advocates is that he had weakly suffered himself to be hurried 
into a gross indiscretion by the evil counsels of his wife and of 
his courtiers. But the general voice loudly charged him with 
far deeper guilt. At the very moment at which his subjects, 
after a long estrangement produced by his maladministration, 
were returning to him with feelings of confidence and affection, 
he had aimed a deadly blow at all their dearest rights, at the 
privileges of Parliament, at the very principle of trial by jury. 
He had shown that ho considered opposition to his arbi- 
trary designs as a crime to be expiated only by blood. 
He had broken faith, not only with his Great Council aDd with 


his people, but with his own adherents. He had done what, but 
for an unforeseen accident, would probably have produced a 
bloodj'- conflict round the Speaker's chair. Those who had the 
chief sway in the Lower House now felt that not only their 
power and popularity, but their lands and their necks, were 
staked on the event of the struggle in which they were engaged. 
The flagging zeal of the party opposed to the court revived in an 
instant. During the night which followed the outrage the whole 
city of London was in arms. In a few hours the roads leading 
to the capital were covered with multitudes of yeomen spurring 
hard to Westminster with the badges of the parliamentary cause 
in their hats. In the House of Commons the opposition became 
at once irresistible, and carried, by more than two votes to one, 
resolutions of unprecedented violence. Strong bodies of the 
trainbands, regularly relieved, mounted guard round Westmin- 
ter Hall. The gates of the King's palace were daily besieged 
by a furious multitude whose taunts and execrations were heard 
even in the presence chamber, and who could scarcely be kept 
out of the royal apartments by the gentlemen of the household. 
Had Charles remained much longer in his stormy capital, it is 
probable that the Commons would have found a plea for making 
him, under outward forms of respect, a state prisoner. 

He quitted London, never to return till the day of a terrible 
and memorable reckoning had arrived. A negotiation began 
which occupied many months. Accusations and recriminations 
passed backward and forward between the contending parties. 
All accommodation had become impossible. The sure punish- 
ment which waits on habitual perfidy had at length overtaken the 
King. It was to no purpose that he now pawned his royal word, 
and invoked heaven to witness the sincerity of his professions. 
The distrust with which his adversaries regarded him was not 
to be removed by oaths or treaties. They were convinced that 
they could be safe only when he was utterly helpless. Their 
demand, therefore, was, that he should surrender, not only those 
prerogatives which he had usurped in violation of ancient laws 
and of his own recent promises, but also other prerogatives 
which the English Kings had always possessed, and continue to 


possess at the present day. No minister must be appointed, no 
peer created, without the consent of the Houses. Above all, 
the sovereign must resign that supreme military authority which, 
from time beyond all memory, had appertained to the regal 

That Charles would comply with such demands while he 
had any means of resistance, was not to be expected. Yet it 
will be difficult to show that the Houses could safely have 
exacted less. They were truly in a most embarrassing position. 
The great majority of the nation was firmly attached to heredi- 
tary monarchy. Those who held republican opinions were as 
yet few, and did not venture to speak out. It was therefore 
impossible to abolish kingly government. Yet it was plain that 
no confidence could be placed in the King. It would have been 
absurd in those who knew, by recent proof, that he was bent on 
destroying them, to content themselves with presenting to him 
another Petition of Right, and receiving from him fresh promises 
similar to those which he had repeatedly made and broken. 
Nothing but the want of an army had prevented him from 
entirely subverting the old constitution of the realm. It was 
now necessary to levy a great regular army for the conquest of 
Ireland; and it would therefore have been mere insanity to 
leave him in possession of that plenitude of military authority 
which his ancestors had enjoyed. 

When a country is in the situation in which England then was, 
when the kingly office is regarded with love and veneration, but 
the person who fills that office is hated and distrusted, it should 
seem that the course which ought to be taken is obvious. The dig- 
nity of the office should be preserved : the person should be discard- 
ed. Thus our ancestors acted in 1399 and in 1689. Had there 
been, in 1642, any man occupying a position similar to that which 
Henry of Lancaster occupied at the time of the deposition of 
Richard the Second, and which William of Orange occupied at 
the time of the deposition of James the Second, it is probable 
that the Houses would have changed the dynasty, and would 
have made no formal change in the constitution. The new 
King, called to the throne by their choice, and dependent on 


their support, would have been under the necessity of governing 
in conformity with their wishes and opinions. But there was 
no prince of the blood royal in the parliamentary party ; and, 
though that party contained many men of high rank and many 
men of eminent ability, there was none who towered so conspic- 
uously above the rest that he could be proposed as a candidate 
for the crown. As there was to be aKin^, and as no new Kins 
could be found, it was necessary to leave the regal title to 
Charles. Only one course, therefore, was left: and that was to 
disjoin the regal title from the regal prerogatives. 

The change which the Houses proposed to make in our in- 
stitutions, though it seems exorbitant, when distinctly set forth 
and digested into articles of capitulation, really amounts to 
little more than the change which, in the next generation, was 
effected by the Revolution. It is true that, at the Revolution, 
the sovereign was not deprived by law of the power of naming 
his ministers : but it is equally true that, since the Revolution, 
no minister has been able to retain office six months in opposi- 
tion to the sense of the House of Commons. It is true that the 
sovereign still possesses the power of creating peers, and the 
more important power of the sword : but it is equally true that 
in the exercise of these powers the sovereign has, ever since the 
Revolution, been guided by advisers who possess the confidence 
of the representatives of the nation. In fact, the leaders of the 
Roundhead party in 1 642, and the statesmen who, about half a 
century later, effected the Revolution, had exactly the same 
object in view. That object was to terminate the contest 
between the Crown and the Parliament, by giving to the Par- 
liament a supreme control over the executive administration. 
The statesmen of the Revolution effected this indirectly by 
changing the dynasty. The Roundheads of 1642, being unable 
to change the dynasty, were compelled to take a direct course 
towards their end. 

We cannot, however, wonder that the demands of the oppo- 
sition, importing as they did a complete and formal transfer to 
the Parliament of powers which had always belonged to the 
Crown, should have shocked that great party of which the 


characteristics are respect for constitutional authority and dread 
of violent innovation. That party had recently been in hopes 
of obtaining by peaceable means the ascendency In the House 
of Commons ; but every such hope had been blighted. The 
duplicity of Charles had made his old enemies irreconcileable, 
had driven back into the ranks of the disaffected a crowd of 
moderate men who were in the very act of coming over to his 
side, and had so cruelly mortified his best friends that they had 
for a time stood aloof in silent shame and resentment. Now, 
however, the constitutional Royalists were forced to make their 
choice between two dangers ; and they thought it their duty 
rather to rally round a prince whose past conduct they con- 
demned, and whose word inspired them with little confidence, 
than to suffer the regal office to be degraded, and the polity of 
the realm to be entirely remodelled. With such feelings, many 
men whose virtues and abilities would have done honour to any 
cause, ranged themselves on the side of the Kin£. 

In August 1642 the sword was at length drawn ; and soon, 
in almost every shire of the kingdom, two hostile factions 
appeared in arms against each other. It is not easy to say 
which of the contending parties was at first the more formid- 
able. The Houses commanded London and the counties round 
London, the fleet, the navigation of the Thames, and most of 
the large towns and seaports. They had at their disposal 
almost all the military stores of the kingdom, and were able to 
raise duties, both on goods imported from foreign countries, and 
on some important products of domestic industry. The King 
was ill provided with artillery and ammunition. The taxes 
which he laid on the rural districts occupied by his troops pro- 
duced, it is probable, a sum far less than that which the Parlia- 
ment drew from the city of London alone. He relied, indeed, 
chiefly, for pecuniary aid, on the munificence of his opulent 
adherents. Many of these mortgaged their land, pawned their 
jewels, and broke up their silver chargers and christening 
bowls, in order to assist him. But experience has fully proved 
that the voluntary liberality of individuals, even in times of the 
greatest excitement, is a poor financial resource wheii compared 


with severe and methodical taxation, which presses on the 
willing and unwilling alike. 

Charles, however, had one advantage, which, if he had used 
it well, would have more than compensated for the want of 
stores and money, and which, notwithstanding his mismanage- 
ment, gave him, during some months, a superiority in the war. 
His troops at first fought much better than those of the Parlia- 
ment. Both armies, it is true, were almost entirely composed 
of men who had never seen a field of battle. Nevertheless, the 
difference was great. The Parliamentary ranks were nlled 
with hirelings whom want and idleness had induced to enlist. 
Hampden's regiment was regarded as one of the best; and even 
Hampden's regiment was described by Cromwell as a mere 
rabble of tapsters and serving men out of place. The royal 
army, on the other hand, consisted in great part of gentlemen, 
high spirited, ardent, accustomed to consider dishonour as more 
terrible than death, accustomed to fencing, to the use of fire 
arms, to bold riding, and to manly and perilous sport, which 
has been well called the image of war. Such gentlemen, 
mounted on their favourite horses, and commanding little bands 
composed of their younger brothers, grooms, gamekeepers, and 
huntsmen, were, from the very first day on which they took the 
field, qualified to play their part with credit in a skirmish. The 
steadiness, the prompt obedience, the mechanical precision of 
movement, which are characteristic ot the regular soldier, these 
gallant volunteers never attained. But they were at first 
opposed to enemies as undisciplined as themselves, and far less 
active, athletic, and daring. For a time, therefore, the Cava- 
liers were successful in almost every encounter. 

The Houses had also been unfortunate in the choice of a 
general. The rank and wealth of the Earl of Essex made him 
one of the most important members of the parliamentary party. 
He had, borne arms on the Continent with credit, and, when 
the war began, had as high a military reputation as any man in 
the country. But it soon appeared that he was unfit for the 
post of Commander in Chief. He had little energy and no 
ori^inalitv. The methodical tactics which he had learned in 


the war of the Palatinate did not save him from the disgrace 
of being surprised and baffled by such a Captain as Rupert, 
who could claim no higher fame than that of an enterprising 

Nor were the officers who held the chief commissions under 
Essex qualified to supply what was wanting in him. For this, 
indeed, the Houses are scarcely to be blamed. In a country 
which had not, within the memory of the oldest person living, 
made war on a great scale by land, generals of tried skill and 
valour were not to be found. It was necessary, therefore, in 
the first instance, to trust untried men ; and the preference was 
naturally given to men distinguished either by their station, or 
by the abilities which they had displayed in Parliament. In 
scarcely a single instance, however, was the selection fortunate. 
Neither the grandees nor the orators proved good soldiers. The 
Earl of Stamford, one of the greatest nobles of England, was 
routed by the Royalists at Stratton. Nathaniel Fiennes, 
inferior to none of his contemporaries in talents for civil busi- 
ness, disgraced himself by the pusillanimous surrender of Bristol. 
Indeed, of all the statesmen who at this juncture accepted high 
military commands, Hampden alone appears to have carried 
into the camp the capacity and strength of mind which had 
made him eminent in politics. 

When the war had lasted a year, the advantage was decid- 
edly with the Royalists. They were victorious, both in the 
western and in the northern counties. They had wrested 
Bristol, the second city in the kingdom, from the Parliament. 
They had won several battles, and had not sustained a single 
serious or ignominious defeat. Among the Roundheads adver- 
sity had begun to produce dissension and discontent. The 
Parliament was kept in alarm, sometimes by plots, and some- 
times by riots. It was thought necessary to fortify London 
against the royal army, and to hang some disaffected citizens 
at their own doors. Several of the most distinguished peers 
who had hitherto remained at Westminster fled to the court at 
Oxford ; nor can it be doubted that, if the operations of the 
Cavaliers had, at this season, been directed by a sagacious and 



powerful mind, Charles would soon have marched in triumph 
to Whitehall. 

But the King suffered the auspicious moment to pass away ; 
and it never returned. In August 1G43 he sate down before 
the city of Gloucester. That city was defended by the inhab- 
itants and by the garrison, with a determination such as had 
not, since the commencement of the war, been shown by the 
adherents of the Parliament. The emulation of London was 
excited. The trainbands of the City volunteered to march 
wherever their services might be required. A great force was 
speedily collected, and began to move westward. The siege of 
Gloucester was raised : the Royalists in every part of the king- 
dom were disheartened : the spirit of the parliamentary party re- 
vived : and the apostate Lords, who had lately fled from West- 
minster to Oxford, hastened back from Oxford to Westminster. 

And now a new and alarming class of symptoms began to 
appear in the distempered body politic. There had been, from 
the first, in the parliamentary party, some men whose minds 
were set on objects from which the majority of that party 
would have shrunk with horror. These men were, in religion, 
Independents. They conceived that every Christian congrega- 
tion had, under Christ, supreme jurisdiction in things spiritual ; 
that appeals to provincial and national synods were scarcely 
less unscriptural than appeals to the Court of Arches, or to the 
Vatican ; and that Popery, Prelacy, and Presbyterianism were 
merely three forms of one great apostasy. In politics, the 
Independents were, to use the phrase of their time, root and 
branch men, or, to use the kindred phrase of our own time, 
radicals. Not content with limiting the power of the monarch, 
they were desirous to erect a commonwealth on the ruins of the 
old English polity. At first they had been inconsiderable, both 
in numbers and in weight ; but before the war had lasted two 
years they became, not indeed the largest, but the most powerful 
faction in the country. Some of the old parliamentary leaders 
had been removed by death ; and others had forfeited the 
public confidence. Pym had been borne, with princely honours, 
to a grave among the Plantagenets. Hampden had fallen, as 


became him, while vainly endeavouring, by his heroic example, 
to inspire his followers with courage to face the fiery cavalry 
of Rupert. Bedford had been untrue to the cause. Northum- 
berland was known to be lukewarm. Essex and his lieutenants 
had shown little vigour and ability in the conduct of military 
operations. At such a conjuncture it was that the Independent 
party, ardent, resolute, and uncompromising, began to raise its 
head, both in the camp and in the House of Commons. 

The soul of that party was Oliver Cromwell. Bred to 
peaceful occupations, he had, at more than forty years of age, 
accepted a commission in the parliamentary army. No sooner 
had he become a soldier than he discerned, with the keen glance 
of genius, what Essex, and men like Essex, with all their 
experience, were unable to perceive. He saw precisely where 
the strength of the Royalists lay, and by what means alone that 
strength could be overpowered. He saw that it was necessary 
to reconstruct the army of the Parliament. He saw also that 
there were abundant and excellent materials for the purpose, 
materials less showy, indeed, but more solid, than those of 
which the gallant squadrons of the King were composed. It 
was necessary to look for recruits who were not mere merce- 
naries, for recruits of decent station and grave character, fearing 
God and zealous for public liberty. With such men he filled 
his own regiment, and, while he subjected them to a discipline 
more rigid than had ever before been known in England, he 
administered to their intellectual and moral nature stimulants 
of fearful potency. 

The events of the year 1644 fully proved the superiority 
of his abilities. In the south, where Essex held the command, 
the parliamentary forces underwent a succession of shameful 
disasters ; but in the north the victory of Marston Moor fully 
compensated for all that had been lost elsewhere. That vic- 
tory was not a more serious blow to the Royalists than to the 
party which had hitherto been dominant at Westminster ; for 
it was notorious that the day, disgracefully lost by the Presby- 
terians, had been retrieved by the energy of Cromwell, and by 
the steady valour of the warriors whom he had trained. 


These events produced the Selfdenying Ordinance and the 
new model of the army. Under decorous pretexts, and with 
every mark of respect, Essex and most of those who had held 
high posts under him were removed ; and the conduct of the 
war was intrusted to very different hands. Fairfax, a brave 
soldier, but of mean understanding and irresolute temper, was 
the nominal Lord General of the forces ; but Cromwell was 
their real head. 

Cromwell made haste to organise the whole army on the 
same principles on which he had organised his own regiment. 
As soon as this process was complete, the event of the war was 
decided. The Cavaliers had now to encounter natural courage 
equal to their own, enthusiasm stronger than their own, and 
discipline such as was utterly wanting to them. It soon became 
a proverb that the soldiers of Fairfax and Cromwell were men 
of a different breed from the soldiers of Essex. At Naseby 
took place the first great encounter between the Royalists and 
the remodelled army of the Houses. The victory of the Round- 
heads was complete and decisive. It was followed by other 
triumphs in rapid succession. In a few months the authority 
of the Parliament was fully established over the whole kino-- 
dom. Charles fled to the Scots, and was by them, in a manner 
which did not much exalt their national character, delivered up 
to his English subjects. 

While the event of the war was still doubtful, the Houses 
had put the Primate to death, had interdicted, within the sphere 
of their authority, the use of the Liturgy, and had required all 
men to subscribe that renowned instrument known by the name 
of the Solemn League and Covenant. Covenanting work, as 
it was called, went on fast. Hundreds of thousands affixed 
their names to the rolls, and, with hands lifted up towards 
heaven, swore to endeavour, without respect of persons, the ex- 
tirpation of Popery and Prelacy, heresy and schism, and to 
bring to public trial and condign punishment all who should 
hinder the reformation of religion. When the struggle was 
Over, the work of innovation and revenge was pushed on with 
increased ardour. The ecclesiastical polity of the kingdom was 


remodelled. Most of the old clergy were ejected from their 
benefices. Fines, often of ruinous amount, were laid on the 
Royalists, already impoverished by large aids furnished to the 
King. Many estates were confiscated. Many proscribed Cav- 
aliers found it expedient to purchase, at an enormous cost, the 
protection of eminent members of the victorious party. Large 
domains, belonging to the crown, to the bishops, and to the 
chapters, were seized, and either granted away or put up to 
auction. In consequence of these spoliations, a great part of 
the soil of England was at once offered for sale. As money 
was scarce, as the market was glutted, as the title was insecure, 
and as the awe inspired by powerful bidders prevented free 
competition, the prices were often merely nominal. Thus many 
old and honourable families disappeared and were heard of no 
more ; and many new men rose rapidly to affluence. 

But, while the Houses were employing their authority thus, 
it suddenly passed out of their hands. It had been obtained by 
calling into existence a power which could not be controlled. 
In the summer of 1647, about twelve months after the last for- 
tress of the Cavaliers had submitted to the Parliament, the 
Parliament was compelled to submit to its own soldiers. 

Thirteen years followed, during which England was, under 
various names and forms, really governed by the sword. Never 
before that time, or since that time, was the civil power in our 
country subjected to military dictation. 

The army which now became supreme in the state was an 
army very different from any that has since been seen among 
us. At present the pay of the common soldier is not such as 
can seduce any but the humblest class of English labourers 
from their calling. A barrier almost impassable separates him 
from the commissioned officer. The great majority of those 
who rise high in the service rise by purchase. So numerous 
and extensive are the remote dependencies of England, that 
every man who enlists in the line must expect to pass many 
years in exile, and some years in climates unfavourable to the 
health and vigour of the European race. The army of the 
Long Parliament was raised for home service. The pay of 


the private soldier was much above the wages earned by the 
great body of the people ; and, if he distinguished himself by 
intelligence and courage, he might hope to attain high com- 
mands. The ranks were accordingly composed of persons 
superior in station and education to the multitude. These per- 
sons, sober, moral, diligent, and accustomed to reflect, had been 
induced to take up arms, not by the pressure of want, not by 
the love of novelty and license, not by the arts of recruiting 
officers, but by religious and political zeal, mingled with the 
desire of distinction and promotion. The boast of the soldiers, 
as we find it recorded in their solemn resolutions, was that they 
had not been forced into the service, nor had enlisted chiefly 
for the sake of lucre, that they were no janissaries, but freeborn 
Englishmen, who had, of their own accord, put their lives in 
jeopardy for the liberties and religion of England, and whose 
right and duty it was to watch over the welfare of the nation 
which they had saved. 

A force thus composed might, without injury to its efficiency, 
be indulged in some liberties which, if allowed to any other 
troops, would have proved subversive of all discipline. In gen- 
eral, soldiers who should form themselves into political clubs, 
elect delegates, and pass resolutions on high questions of state, 
would soon break loose from all control, would cease to form an 
army, and would become the worst and most dangerous of mobs. 
Nor would it be safe, in our time, to tolerate in any regiment 
religious meetings, at which a corporal versed in Scripture 
should lead the devotions of his less gifted colonel, and admon- 
ish a backsliding major. But such was the intelligence, the 
gravity, .and the self command of the warriors whom Cromwell 
had trained, that in their camp a political organisation and a 
religious organisation could exist without destroying military 
organisation. The same men, who, off duty, were noted as 
demagogues and field preachers, were distinguished by steadi- 
ness, by the spirit of order, and by prompt obedience on watch, 
on drill, and on the field of battle. 

In war this strange force was irresistible. The stubborn 
courage characteristic of the English people was, by the system 


of Cromwell, at once regulated and stimulated. Other leaders 
have maintained orders as strict. Other leaders have inspired 
their followers with zeal as ardent. But in his camp alone the 
most rigid discipline was found in company with the fiercest en- 
thusiasm. His troops moved to victory with the precision of 
machines, while burning with the wildest fanaticism of Crusad- 
ers. From the time when the army was remodelled to the time 
when it was disbanded, it never fouud, either in the British 
islands or on the Continent, an enemy who could stand its 
onset. In England, Scotland, Ireland, Flanders, the Puritan 
warriors, often surrounded by difficulties, sometimes contending 
against threefold odds, not only never failed to conquer, but 
never failed to destroy and break in pieces whatever force was 
opposed to them. They at length came to regard the day of 
battle as a day of certain triumph, and marched against the 
most renowned battalions of Europe with disdainful confidence. 
Turenne was startled by the shout of stern exultation with 
which his English allies advanced to the combat, and expressed 
the delight of a true soldier, when he learned that it was ever 
the fashion of Cromwell's pikemen to rejoice greatly when they 
beheld the enemy ; and the banished Cavaliers felt an emotion 
of national pride, when they saw a brigade of their countrymen, 
outnumbered by foes and abandoned by friends, drive before it 
in headlong rout the finest infantry of Spain, and force a pas- 
sage into a counterscarp which had just been pronounced im- 
pregnable by the ablest of th-3 Marshals of France. 

But that which chiefly distinguished the army of Cromwell 
from other armies was the austere morality and the fear of God 
which pervaded all ranks. It is acknowledged by the most 
zealous Royalists that, in that singular camp, no oath was heard, 
no drunkenness or gambling was seen, and that, during the long 
dominion of the soldiery, the property of the peaceable citizen 
and the honour of woman were held sacred. If outrages were 
committed, they were outrages of a very different kind from 
those of which a victorious army is generally guilty. No ser- 
vant girl complained of the rough gallantry of the redcoats. 
Not an ounce of plate was taken from the shops of the goldsmiths. 


But a Pelagian sermon, or a window on which the Virgin and 
Child were painted, produced in the Puritan ranks an excite- 
ment which it required the utmost exertions of the officers to 
quell. One of Cromwell's chief difficulties was to restrain his 
musketeers and dragoons from invading by main force the pul- 
pits of ministers whose discourses, to use the language of that 
time, were not savoury ; and too many of oar cathedrals still 
bear the marks of the hatred with which those stern spirits re- 
garded every vestige of Popery. 

To keep down the English people was no light task even 
for that army. No sooner was the first pressure of military 
tyranny felt, than the nation, unbroken to such servitude, began 
to straggle fiercely. Insurrections broke out even in those 
counties which, during the recent war, had been the most sub- 
missive to the Parliament. Indeed, the Parliament itself ab- 
horred its old defenders more than its old enemies, and was de- 
sirous to come to terms of accommodation with Charles at the 
expense of the troops. In Scotland at the same time, a coali- 
tion was formed between the Royalists and a large body of 
Presbyterians who regarded the doctrines of the Independents 
with detestation. At length the storm burst. There were ris- 
ings in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, AVales. The fleet in the 
Thames suddenly hoisted the royal colours, stood out to sea, and 
menaced the southern coast. A great S3ottish force crossed the 
frontier and advanced into Lancashire. It might well be sus- 
pected that these movements were contemplated with secret com- 
placency by a majority both of the Lords and of the Commons. 

But the yoke of the army was not to be so shaken off. 
While Fairfax suppressed the risings in the neighbourhood of 
the capital, Oliver routed the Welsh insurgents, and, leaving 
their castles in ruins, marched against the Scots. His troops 
were few, when compared with the invaders ; but he was little 
in the habit of counting his enemies. The Scottish army was 
utterly destroyed. A change in the Scottish government fol- 
lowed. An administration, hostile to the King, was formed at 
Edinburgh ; aud Cromwell, more than ever the darling of his 
soldiers, returned in triumph to Loudon. 


And now a design, to which, at the commencement of the 
civil war, no man would have dared to allude, and which was 
not less inconsistent with the Solemn League and Covenant 
than with the old law of England, began to take a distinct form. 
The austere warriors who ruled the nation had, during some 
months, meditated a fearful vengeance on the captive King. 
When and how the scheme originated ; whether it spread from 
the general to ihe ranks, or from the ranks to the general ; 
whether it is to be ascribed to policy using fanaticism as a tool, 
or to fanaticism bearing down policy with headlong impulse, are 
"questions which, even at this day, cannot be answered with per- 
fect confidence. It seems, however, on the whole, probable that 
he who seemed to lead was really forced to follow, and that, on 
this occasion, as on another great occasion a few years later, he 
sacrificed his own judgment and his own inclinations to the 
wishes of the army. For the power which he had called into 
existence was a power which even he could not always control ; 
and, that he might ordinarily command, it was necessary that 
he should sometimes obey. He publicly protested that he was 
no mover in the matter, that the first steps had been taken with- 
out his privity, that he could not advise the Parliament to strike 
the blow, but that he submitted his own feelings to the force of 
circumstances which seemed to him to indicate the purposes of 
Providence. It has been the fashion to consider these profes- 
sions as instances of the hypocrisy which is vulgarly imputed to 
him. But even those who pronounce him a hypocrite will 
scarcely venture to call him a fool. They are therefore bound 
to show that he had some purpose to serve by secretly stimula- 
ting the army to take that course which he did not venture 
openly to recommend. It would be absurd to suppose that he 
who was never by his respectable enemies represented as wan- 
tonly cruel or implacably vindictive, would have taken the most 
important step of his life under the influence of mere malevolence. 
He was far too wise a man not to know, when he consented to 
shed that august blood, that he was doing a deed which was 
inexpiable, and which would move the grief and horror, not 
only of the Royalists, but of nine tenths of those who had stood 


by the Parliament. Whatever visions may have deluded others^ 
he was assuredly dreaming neither of a republic on the antique 
pattern, nor of the millennial reign of the Saints. If he already 
aspired to be himself the founder of a new dynasty, it was plain 
that Charles the First was a less formidable competitor than 
Charles the Second would be. At the moment of the death of 
Charles the First the loyalty of every Cavalier would be trans- 
ferred, unimpaired, to Charles the Second. Charles the First 
was a captive : Charles the Second would be at liberty. Charles 
the First was an object of suspicion and dislike to a large pro- 
portion of those who yet shuddered at the thought of slaying 
him : Charles the Second would excite all the interest which 
belongs to distressed youth and innocence. It is impossible to 
believe that considerations so obvious, and so important, es- 
caped the most profound politician of that age. The truth is 
that Cromwell had, at one time, meant to mediate between the 
throne and the Parliament, and to reorganise the distracted 
State by the power of the sword, under the sanction of the royal 
name. In this design he persisted till he was compelled to 
abandon it by the refractory temper of the soldiers, and by the 
incurable duplicity of the King. A party in the camp began to 
clamour for the head of the traitor, who was for treating with 
Agag. Conspiracies were formed. Threats of impeachment 
were loudly uttered. A mutiny broke out, which all the vigour 
and resolution of Oliver could hardly quell. And though, by a 
judicious mixture of severity and kindness, he succeeded in 
restoring order, he saw that it would be in the highest degree dif- 
ficult and perilous to contend against the rage of warriors, who 
regarded the fallen tyrant as their foe, and as the foe of their 
God. At the same time it became more evident than ever that 
the King could not be trusted. The vices of Charles had grown 
upon him. They were, indeed, vices which difficulties and per- 
plexities generally bring out in the strongest light. Cunning is 
the natural defence of the weak. A prince, therefore, who is 
habitually a deceiver when at the height of power, is not likely 
to learn frankness in the midst of embarrassments and distresses. 
Charles was not only a most unscrupulous but a most unlucky 


dissembler. There never was a politician to whom so many- 
frauds and falsehoods were brought home by undeniable evidence. 
He publicly recognised the Houses at Westminster as a legal 
Parliament, and, at the same time, made a private minute in 
council declaring the recognition null. He publicly disclaimed 
all thought of calling in foreign aid against his people : he pri- 
vately solicited aid from France, from Denmark, and from Lor- 
raine. He publicly denied that he employed Papists : at the 
same time he privately sent to his generals directions to employ 
every Papist that would serve. He publicly took the sacrament 
at Oxford, as a pledge that he never would even connive at 
Popery. He privately assured his wife, that he intended to 
tolerate Popery in England ; and he authorised Lord Glamor- 
gan to promise that Popery should be established in Ireland. 
Then he attempted to clear himself at his agent's expense. 
Glamorgan received, in the Royal handwriting, reprimands 
intended to be read by others, and eulogies which were to be seen 
only by himself. To such an extent, indeed, had insincerity 
now tainted the King's whole nature, that his most devoted 
friends could not refrain from complaining to each other, with 
bitter grief and shame, of his crooked politics. His defeats, 
they said, gave them less pain than his intrigues. Since he had 
been a prisoner, there was no section of the victorious party 
which had not been the object both of his flatteries and of his 
machinations ; but never was he more unfortunate than when 
he attempted at once to cajole and to undermine Cromwell. 

Cromwell had to determine whether he would put to hazard 
the attachment of his party, the attachment of his army, his own 
greatness, nay his own life, in an attempt which would probably 
have been vain, to save a prince whom no engagement could 
bind. With many struggles and misgivings, and probably not 
without many prayers, the decision was made. Charles was 
left to his fate. The military saints resolved that, in defiance 
of the old laws of the realm, and of the almost universal senti- 
ment of the nation, the King should expiate his crimes with his 
blood. He for a time expected a death like that of his unhappy 
predecessors, Edward the Second and Richard the Second. But 


he was in no danger of such treason. Those who had hhn in 
their gripe were not midnight slabbers. What they did they 
did in order that it might be a spectacle to heaven and earth, 
and that it might be held in everlasting remembrance. They 
enjoyed keenly the very scandal which they gave. That the 
ancient constitution and the public opinion of England were 
directly opposed to regicide made regicide seem strangely fascina-. 
ting to a party bent on effecting a complete political and social 
revolution. In order to accomplish their purpose, it was neces- 
sary that they should first break in pieces every part of the 
machinery of the government ; and this necessity was rather 
agreeable than painful to them. The Commons passed a vote 
tending to accommodation with the Kins' The soldiers ex- 
eluded the majority by force. The Lords unanimously rejected 
the proposition that the King should be brought to trial. Their 
house was instantly closed. No court, known to the law, would 
take on itself the office of judging the fountain of justice. A 
revolutionary tribunal was created. That tribunal pronounced 
Charles a tyrant, a traitor, a murderer, and a public enemy ; 
and his head was severed from his shoulders, before thousands 
of spectators, in front of the banqueting hall of his own palace. 
In no long time it became manifest that those political and 
religious zealots, to whom this deed is to be ascribed, had 
committed, not only a crime, but an error. They had given to 
a prince, hitherto known to his people chiefly by his faults, an 
opportunity of displaying, on a great theatre, before the eyes of 
all nations and all ages, some qualities which irresistibly call 
forth the admiration and love of mankind, the high spirit of a 
gallant gentleman, the patience and meekness of a penitent 
Christian. Nay, they had so contrived their revenge that the 
very man whose life had been a series of attacks on the liberties 
of England now seemed to die a martyr in the cause of those 
liberties. No demagogue ever produced such an impression on 
the public mind as the captive King, who, retaining in that 
extremity all his regal dignity, and confronting death with 
dauntless courage, gave utterance to the feelings of his oppressed 
people, manfully refused to plead before a court unknown to 


the law, appealed from military violence to the principles of 
the constitution, asked by what right the House of Commons 
had been purged of its most respectable members and the 
House of Lords deprived of its legislative functions, and told 
his weeping hearers that he was defending, not only his own 
cause, but theirs. His long misgovernment, his innumerable 
perfidies, were forgotten. His memory was, in the minds of 
the great majority of his subjects, associated with those free 
institutions which he had, during many years, laboured to 
destroy : for those free institutions had perished with him, and, 
amidst the mournful silence of a community kept down by 
arms, had been defended by his voice alone. From that day 
began a reaction in favour of monarchy and of the exiled house, 
a reaction which never ceased till the throne had again been 
set up in all its old dignity. 

At first, however, the slayers of the King seemed to have 
derived new energy from that sacrament of blood by which 
they had bound themselves closely together, and separated 
themselves for ever from the great body of their countrymen. 
England was declared a commonwealth. The House of Com- 
mons, reduced to a small number of members, was nominally 
the supreme power in the state. In fact, the army and its 
great chief governed everything. Oliver had made his choice. 
He had kept the hearts of his soldiers, and had broken with 
almost every other class of his fellow citizens. Beyond the 
limits of his camps and fortresses he could scarcely be said to 
have a party. Those elements of force which, when the civil 
war broke out, had appeared arrayed against each other, were 
combined against him ; all the Cavaliers, the great majority of 
the Roundheads, the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church, 
the Roman Catholic Church, England, Scotland, Ireland. Yet 
such was his genius and resolution that he was able to over- 
power and crush everything that crossed his path, to make 
himself more absolute master of his country than any of her 
legitimate Kings had been, and to make his country more 
dreaded and respected than she had been during many genera- 
tions under the rule of her legitimate Kings. 


England had already ceased to struggle. But the two 
other kingdoms which had been governed by the Stuarts were 
hostile to the new republic. The Independent party was 
equally odious to the Roman Catholics of Ireland and to the 
Presbyterians of Scotland. Both those countries, lately in 
rebellion against Charles the First, now acknowledged the 
authority of Charles the Second. 

But everything yielded to the vigour and ability of Crom- 
well. In a few months he subjugated Ireland, as Ireland had 
never been subjugated during the five centuries of slaughter 
which had elapsed since the landing of the first Norman 
settlers. He resolved to put an end to that conflict of races 
and religions which had so long distracted the island, by making 
the English and Protestant population decidedly predominant. 
For this end he gave the rein to the fierce enthusiasm of his 
followers, waged war resembling that which Israel waged on 
the Canaanites, smote the idolaters with the edge of the sword, 
so that great cities were left without inhabitants, drove many 
thousands to the Continent, shipped off many thousands to the 
West Indies, and supplied the void thus made by pouring in 
numerous colonists, of Saxon blood, and of Calvinistic faith. 
Strange to say, under that iron rule, the conquered country 
began to wear an outward face of prosperity. Districts, which 
had recently been as wild as those where the first white settlers 
of Connecticut were contending with the red men, were in a few 
years transformed into the likeness of Kent and Norfolk. 
New buildings, roads, and plantations were everywhere seen. 
The rent of estates rose fast ; and soon the English landowners 
began to complain that they were met in every market by the 
products of Ireland, and to clamour for protecting laws. 

From Ireland the victorious chief, who was now in name, 
as he had long been in reality, Lord General of the armies of 
the Commonwealth, turned to Scotland. The Young King was 
there. He had consented to profess himself a Presbyterian, 
and to subscribe the Covenant; and, in return for these con- 
cessions, the austere Puritans who bore sway at Edinburgh had 
permitted him to assume the crown, and to hold, under their 


inspection and control, a solemn and melancholy court. This 
mock royalty was of short duration. In two great battles 
Cromwell annihilated the military force of Scotland. Charles 
fled for his life, and, with extreme difficulty, escaped the fate 
of his father. The ancient kingdom of the Stuarts was reduced, 
for the first time, to profound submission. Of that independ- 
ence, so manfully defended against the mightiest and ablest of 
the Plantagenets, no vestige was left. The English Parliament 
made laws for Scotland. English judges held assizes in Scot- 
land. Even that stubborn Church, which has held its own 
against so many governments, scarce dared to utter an audible 

Thus far there had been at least the semblance of harmony be- 
tween the warriors who had subjugated Ireland and Scotland and 
the politicians who sate at Westminster : but the alliance which 
had been cemented by danger was dissolved by victory. The 
Parliament forgot that it was but the creature of the army. The 
army was less disposed than ever to submit to the dictation of the 
Parliament. Indeed the few members who made up what was 
contemptuously called the Pump of the House of Commons had 
no more claim than the militar} r chiefs to be esteemed the rep- 
resentatives of the nation. The dispute was soon brought to a 
decisive issue. Cromwell filled the House with armed men. The 
Speaker was pulled out of his chair, the mace taken from the 
table, the room cleared, and the door locked. The nation, which 
loved neither of the contending parties, but which was forced, 
in its own despite, to respect the capacity and resolution of the 
General, looked on with patience, if not with complacency. 

King, Lords, and Commons, had now in turn been van- 
quished and destroyed ; and Cromwell seemed to be left the 
sole heir of the powers of all three. Yet were certain limitations 
still imposed on him by the very army to which he owed his 
immense authority. That singular body of men was, for the 
most part, composed of zealous republicans. In the act of 
enslaving their country, they had deceived themselves into the 
belief that they were emancipating her. The book which they 
most venerated furnished them with a precedent which was 


frequently in their mouths. It was true that the ignorant and 
ungrateful nation murmured against its deliverers. Even so 
had another chosen nation murmured against the leader who 
brought it, by painful and dreary paths, from the house of 
bondage to the land flowing with milk and honey. Yet had 
that leader rescued his brethren in spite of themselves ; nor had 
he shrunk from making terrible examples of those who con- 
temned the proffered freedom, and pined for the fleshpots, the 
taskmasters, and the idolatries of Egypt. The object of the 
warlike saints who surrounded Cromwell was the settlement of 
a free and pious commonwealth. For that end they were ready 
to employ, without scruple, any means, however violent and 
lawless. It was not impossible, therefore, to establish by their 
aid a dictatorship such as no King had ever exercised : but it 
was probable that their aid would be at once withdrawn from a 
ruler who, even under strict constitutional restraints, should 
venture to assume the kingly name and dignity. 

The sentiments of Cromwell were widely different. He 
was not what he had been ; nor would it be just to consider the 
change which his views had undergone as the effect merely of 
selfish ambition. He had, when he came up to the Long 
Parliament, brought with him from his rural retreat little 
knowledge of books, no experience of great affairs, and a tem- 
per galled by the long tyranny of the government and of the 
hierarchy. He had, during the thirteen years which followed, 
gone through a political education of no common kind. He 
had been a chief actor in a succession of revolutions. He had 
been long the soul, and at last the head, of a party. He had 
commanded armies, won battles, negotiated treaties, subdued, 
pacified, and regulated kingdoms. It would have been strange 
indeed if his notions had been still the same as in the days when 
his mind was principally occupied by his fields and his religion, 
and when the greatest events which diversified the course of 
his life were a cattle fair or a prayer meeting at Huntingdon. 
He saw that some schemes of innovation for which he had once 
been zealous, whether good or bad in themselves, were opposed 
to the general feeling of the country, and that, if he persevered 


in those schemes, he had nothing before him but constant 
troubles, which must be suppressed by the constant use of the 
sword. He therefore wished to restore, in all essentials, that 
ancient constitution which the majority of the people had always 
loved, and for which they now pined. The course afterwards 
taken by Monk was not open to Cromwell. The memory of 
one terrible day separated the great regicide for ever from the 
House of Stuart. What remained was that he should mount 
the ancient English throne, and reign according to the ancient 
English polity. If he could effect this, he might hope that the 
wounds of the lacerated State would heal fast. Great numbers 
of honest and quiet men would speedily rally round him. Those 
Royalists whose attachment was rather to institutions than 
to persons, to the kingly office than to King Charles the First 
or King Charles the Second, would soon kiss the hand of King 
Oliver. The peers, who now remained sullenly at their country 
houses, and refused to take any part in public affairs, would, 
when summoned to their House by the writ of a King in pos- 
session, gladly resume their ancient functions. Northumber- 
land and Bedford, Manchester and Pembroke, would be proud 
to bear the crown and the spurs, the sceptre and the globe, 
before the restorer of aristocracy. A sentiment of loyalty 
would gradually bind the people to the new dynasty ; and, on 
the decease of the founder of that dynasty, the royal dignity 
might descend with general acquiescence to his posterity. 

The ablest Royalists were of opinion that these views were 
correct, and that, if Cromwell had been permitted to follow 
his own judgment, the exiled line would never have been re- 
stored. But his plan was directly opposed to the feelings of 
the only class which he dared not offend. The name of 
King was hateful to the soldiers. Some of them were indeed 
unwilling to see the administration in the hands of any single 
person. The great majority, however, were disposed to sup- 
port their general, as elective first magistrate of a common- 
wealth, against all factions which might resist his authority : 
but they -would not consent that he should assume the regal 
title, or that the dignity, which was the just reward of his per- 



sonal merit, should be declared hereditary in his family. All 
that was left to him was to give to the new republic a constitu- 
tion as like the constitution of the old monarchy as the army 
would bear. That his elevation to power might not seem to be 
merely his own act, he convoked a council, composed partly 
of persons on whose support he could depend, and partly of 
persons whose opposition he might safely defy. This assembly, 
which he called a Parliament, and which the populace nick- 
named, from one of the most conspicuous members, Barebones's 
Parliament, after exposing itself during a short time to the 
public contempt, surrendered back to the General the powers 
which it had received from him, and left him at liberty to frame 
a plan of government. 

His plan bore, from the first, a considerable resemblance to 
the old English constitution : but, in a few years, he thought 
it safe to proceed further, and to restore almost every part of 
the ancient system under new names and forms. The title of 
King was not revived ; but the kingly prerogatives were in- 
trusted to a Lord Hisjh Protector. The sovereign was called 
not His Majesty, but His Highness. He was not crowned and 
anointed in Westminster Abbey, but was solemnly enthroned, 
girt with a sword of state, clad in a robe of purple, and pre- 
sented with a rich Bible, in Westminster Hall. His office was 
not declared hereditary : but he was permitted to name his suc- 
cessor ; and none could doubt that he would name his son. 

A House of Commons was a necessary part of the new 
polity. In constituting this body, the Protector showed a 
wisdom and a public spirit which were not duly appreciated by 
his contemporaries. The vices of the old representative sys- 
tem, though by no means so serious as they afterwards became, 
had alread}' 1 been remarked by farsighted men. Cromwell re- 
formed that system on the same principles on which Mr. Pitt, 
a hundred and thirty years later, attempted to reform it, and 
on which it was at length reformed in our own times. Small 
boroughs were disfranchised even more unsparingly than in 1832 ; 
and the number of county members was greatly increased. 
Very few unrepresented towns had yet grown into importance. 


Of those towns the most considerable were Manchester, 
Leeds, and Halifax. Representatives were given to all three. 
An addition was made to the number of the members for the 
capital. The elective franchise was placed on such a footing 
that every man of substance, whether possessed of freehold 
estates in land or not, had a vote for the county in which he 
resided. A few Scotchmen and a few of the English colonists 
settled in Ireland were summoned to the assembly which was to 
legislate, at Westminster, for every part of the British isles. 

To create a House of Lords was a less easy task. Democ- 
racy does not require the support of prescription. Monarchy 
has often stood without that support. But a patrician order is 
the work of time. Oliver found already existing a nobility, 
opulent, highly considered, and as popular with the commonalty 
as any nobility has ever been. Had he, as King of England, 
commanded the peers to meet him in Parliament according to 
the old usage of the realm, many of them would undoubtedly 
have obeyed the call. This he could not do ; and it was to no 
purpose that he offered to the chiefs of illustrious families seats 
in his new senate. They conceived that they could not accept 
a nomination to an upstart assembly without renouncing their 
birthright and betraying their order. The Protector was, there- 
fore, under the necessity of filling his Upper House with new 
men who, during the late stirring times, had made themselves 
conspicuous. This was the least happy of his contrivances, and 
displeased all parties. The Levellers were angry with him for 
instituting a privileged class. The multitude, which felt re- 
spect and fondness for the great historical names of the land, 
laughed without restraint at a House of Lords, in which lucky 
draymen and shoemakers were seated, to which few of the old 
nobles were invited, and from which almost all those old nobles 
who were invited turned disdainfully away. 

How Oliver's Parliaments were constituted, however, was 
practically of little moment : for he possessed the means of 
conducting the administration without their support, and in de- 
fiance of their opposition. His wish seems to have been to govern 
constitutionally, and to substitute the empire of the laws for that 


of the sword. But he soon found that, hated as he was, both by 
Royalists and Presbyterians, he could be safe only by being ab- 
solute. The first House of Commons which the people elected by 
his command, questioned his authority, and was dissolved without 
having passed a single act. His second House of Commons, 
though it recognised him as Protector, and would gladly have 
made him King, obstinately refused to acknowledge his new 
Lords. He had no course left but to dissolve the Parliament. 
" Gcd," he exclaimed, at parting, " be judge between you and 

Yet was the energy of the Protector's administration in no- 
wise relaxed by these dissensions. Those soldiers who would 
not suffer him to assume the kingly title stood by him when he 
ventured on acts of power, as high as any English King has 
ever attempted. The government, therefore, though in form a 
republic, was in truth a despotism, moderated only by the wis- 
dom, the sobriety, and the magnanimity of the despot. The 
country was divided into military districts. Those districts were 
placed under the command of Major Generals. Every insur- 
rectionary movement was promptly put down and punished. 
The fear inspired by the power of the sword, in so strong, steady, 
and expert a hand, quelled the spirit both of Cavaliers and 
Levellers. The loyal gentry declared that they were still as 
ready as ever to risk their lives for the old government and the 
old dynasty, if there were the slightest hope of success : but to 
rush, at the head of their serving men and tenants, on the pikes 
of brigades victorious in a hundred battles and sieges, would be 
a frantic waste of innocent and honourable blood. Both Royal- 
ists and Republicans, having no hope in open resistance, began 
to revolve dark schemes of assassination : but the Protector's 
intelligence was good: his vigilance was unremitting ; and, when- 
ever he moved beyond the walls of his palace, the drawn swords 
and cuirasses of his trusty bodyguards encompassed him thick 
on every side. 

Had he been a cruel, licentious, and rapacious prince, the 
nation might have found courage in despair, and might have 
made a convulsive effort to free itself from military domination. 


But the grievances which the country suffered, though such as 
excited serious discontent, were by no means such as impel great 
masses of men to stake their lives, their fortunes, and the wel- 
fare of their families against fearful odds. The taxation, though 
heavier than it had been under the Stuarts, was not heavy when 
compared with that of the neighbouring states and with the re- 
sources of England. Property was secure. Even the Cavalier, 
who refrained from giving disturbance to the new settlement, en- 
joyed in peace whatever the civil troubles had left him. The 
laws were violated only in cases where the safety of the Protec- 
tor's person and government was concerned. Justice was adminis- 
tered between man and man with an exactness and purity not 
before known. Under no English government since the Ref- 
ormation, had there been so little religious persecution. The 
unfortunate Roman Catholics, indeed, were held to be scarcely 
within the pale of Christian charity. But the clergy of the 
fallen Anglican Church were suffered to celebrate their worship 
on condition that they would abstain from preaching about poli- 
tics. Even the Jews, whose public worship had, ever since the 
thirteenth century, been interdicted, were, in spite of the strong 
opposition of jealous traders and fanatical theologians, permit- 
ted to build a synagogue in London. 

The Protector's foreign policy at the same time extorted 
the ungracious approbation of those who most detested him. 
The Cavaliers could scarcely refrain from wishing that one 
who had done so much to raise the fame of the nation had 
been a legitimate King ; and the Republicans were forced to 
own that the tyrant suffered none but himself to wrong his 
country, and that, if he had robbed her of liberty, he had at 
least given her glory in exchange. After half a century during 
which England had been of scarcely more weight in European 
politics than Venice or Saxony, she at once became the most 
formidable power in the world, dictated terms of peace to the 
United Provinces, avenged the common injuries of Christendom 
on the pirates of Barbary, vanquished the Spaniards by land 
and sea, seized one of the finest West Indian islands, and 
acquired on the Flemish coast a fortress which consoled the 


national pride for the loss of Calais. She was supreme on the 
ocean. She was the head of the Protestant interest. All the 
reformed Churches scattered over Roman Catholic kingdoms 
acknowledged Cromwell as their guardian. The Huguenots of 
Languedoc, the shepherds who, in the hamlets of the Alps, 
professed a Protestantism older than that of . Augsburg, were 
secured from oppression by the mere terror of his great name. 
The Pope himself was forced to preach humanity and modera- 
tion to Popish princes, For a voice which seldom threatened 
in vain had declared that, unless favour were shown to the 
people of God, the English guns should be heard in the Castle 
of Saint Augelo. In truth, there was nothing which Cromwell 
had, for his own sake and that of his family, so much reason to 
desire as a general religious war in Europe. In such a war he 
must have been the captain of the Protestant armies. The 
heart of England would have been with him. His victories 
would have been hailed with an unanimous enthusiasm unknown 
in the country since the rout of the Armada, and would have 
effaced the stain which one act, condemned by the general 
voice of the nation, has left on his splendid fame. Unhappily 
for him he had no opportunity of displaying his admirable 
military talents, except against the inhabitants of the British 

While he lived his power stood firm, an object of mingled 
aversion, admiration, and dread to his subjects. Few indeed 
loved his government ; but those who hated it most hated it 
less than they feared it. Had it been a worse government, it 
might perhaps have been overthrown in spite of all its strength. 
Had it been a weaker government, it would certainly have 
been overthrown in spite of all its merits. But it had modera- 
tion enough to abstain from those oppressions which drive men 
mad ; and it had a force and energy which none but men 
driven mad by oppression would venture to encounter. 

It has often been affirmed, but with little reason, that 
Oliver died at a time fortunate for his renown, and that, if his 
life had been prolonged, it would probably have closed amidst 
disgraces and disasters. It is certain that he was, to the last, 


honoured by his soldiers, obeyed by the whole population of 
the British islands, and dreaded by all foreign powers, that he 
was laid amonjr the ancient sovereigns of England with funeral 
pomp such as London had never before seen, and that he was 
succeeded by his son Richard as quietly as any King had ever 
been succeeded by any Prince of Wales. 

During five months, the administration of Richard Crom- 
well went on so tranquilly and regularly that all Europe 
believed him to be firmly established on the chair of state. In 
truth his situation was in some respects much more advanta- 
geous than that of his father. The young man had made no 
enemy. His hands were unstained by civil blood. The Cav- 
aliers themselves allowed him to be an honest, good-natured 
gentleman. The Presbyterian party, powerful both in numbers 
and in wealth, had been at deadly feud with the late Protector, 
but was disposed to regard the present Protector with favour. 
That party had always been desirous to see the old civil polity 
of the realm restored with some clearer definitions and some 
stronger safeguards for public liberty, but had many reasons 
for dreading the restoration of the old family. Richard was 
the very man for politicians of this description. His humanity, 
ingenuousness, and modesty, the mediocrity of his abilities, 
and the docility with which he submitted to the guidance of 
persons wiser than himself, admirably qualified him to be the 
head of a limited monarchy. 

For a time it seemed highly probable that he would, under 
the direction of able advisers, effect what his father had at- 
tempted in vain. A Parliament was called, and the writs were 
directed after the old fashion. The small boroughs which had 
recently been disfranchised regained their lost privilege : Man- 
chester, Leeds, and Halifax ceased to return members ; and 
the county of York was again limited to two knights. It may 
seem strange to a generation which has been excited almost to 
madness by the question of parliamentary reform that great 
shires and towns should have submitted with patience, and 
even with complacency, to this change : but though speculative 
men might, even in that age, discern the vices of the old repre- 


sentative system, and predict that those vices would, sooner or 
later, produce serious practical evil, the practical evil had not 
yet been felt. Oliver's representative system, on the other 
hand, though constructed on sound principles, was not popular. 
Both the events in which it originated, and the effects which it 
had produced, prejudiced men against it. It had sprung from 
military violence. It had been fruitful of nothing but disputes. 
The whole nation was sick of government by the sword, and 
pined for government by the law. The restoration, therefore, 
even of anomalies and abuses, which were in strict conformity 
with the law, and which had been destroyed by the sword, gave 
general satisfaction. 

Among the Commons there was a strong opposition, con- 
sisting partly of avowed Republicans, and partly of concealed 
Royalists : but a large and steady majority appeared to be 
favourable to the plan of reviving the old civil constitution 
under a new dynasty. Richard was solemnly recognised as 
first magistrate. The Commons not only consented to transact 
business with Oliver's Lords, but passed a vote acknowledging 
the right of those nobles who had, in the late troubles, taken 
the side of public liberty, to sit in the Upper House of Parlia- 
ment without any new creation. 

Thus fur the statesmen by whose advice Richard acted had 
been successful. Almost all the parts of the government were 
now constituted as they had been constituted at the commence- 
ment of the civil war. Had the Protector and the Parliament 
been suffered to proceed undisturbed, there can be little doubt 
"hat an order of things similar to that which was afterwards 
established under the House of Hanover would have been 
established under the House of Cromwell. But there was in 
the state a power more than sufficient to deal with Protector 
and Parliament together. Over the soldiers Richard had no 
authority except that which he derived from the great name 
which he had inherited. He had never led them to victory. 
He had never even borne arms. All his tastes and habits were 
pacific. Nor were his opinions and feelings on religious sub- 
jects approved by the military saints. That he was a good 


man he evinced by proofs more satisfactory than deep groans 
or long sermons, by humility and suavity when he was at the 
height of human greatness, and by cheerful resignation under 
cruel wrongs and misfortunes : but the cant then common in 
re very guardroom gave him a disgust which he had no« always 
the prudence to conceal. The officers who had the principal 
influence among the troops stationed near London were not 
his friends. They were men distinguished by valour and con- 
duct in the field, but destitute of the wisdom and civil courage 
which had been conspicuous in their deceased leader. Some of 
them were honest, but fanatical, Independents and Republicans. 
Of this class Fleetwood was the representative. Others were 
impatient to be what Oliver had been. His rapid elevation, his 
prosperity and glory, his inauguration in the Hall, and his 
gorgeous obsequies in the Abbey, had inflamed their imagina- 
tion. They were as well born as he, and as well educated : 
they could not understand why they were not as worthy to 
wear the purple robe, and to wield the sword of state ; and 
they pursued the objects of their wild ambition, not, like him, 
with patience, vigilance, sagacity, and determination, but with 
the restlessness and irre'solution characteristic of aspiring medi- 
ocrity. Among these feeble copies of a great original the most 
conspicuous was Lambert. 

On the very day of Richard's accession the officers began to 
conspire against their new master. The good understanding 
which existed between hiin and his Parliament hastened the 
crisis. Alarm and resentment spread through the camp. Both 
the religious and the professional feelings of the army were 
deeply wounded. It seemed that the Independents were to be 
subjected to the Presbyterians, and that the men of the sword 
were to be subjected to the men of the gown. A coalition was 
formed between the military malecontents and the republican 
minority of the House of Commons. It may well be doubted 
whether Richard could have triumphed over that coalition, even 
if he had inherited his father's clear judgment and iron courage. 
It is certain that simplicity and meekness like his were not the 
qualities which the conjuncture required. He fell ingloriously, 


and without a struggle. He was used by the army as an in* 
strument for the purpose of dissolving the Parliament, and 
was then contemptuously thrown aside. The officers gratified 
their republican allies by declaring that the expulsion of the 
Rump had been illegal, and by inviting that assembly to resume 
its functions. The old Speaker and a quorum of the old mem- 
bers came together, and were proclaimed, amidst the scarcely 
stifled derision and execration of the whole nation, the supreme 
power in the commonwealth. It was at the same time ex- 
pressly declared that there should be no first magistrate, and 
no House of Lords. 

But this state of things could not last. On the day on which 
the long Parliament revived, revived also its old quarrel with the 
army. Again the Rump forgot that it owed its existence to the 
pleasure of the soldiers, and began to treat them as subjects. 
Again the doors of the House of Commons were closed by mil- 
itary violence ; and a provisional government, named by the offi- 
cers, assumed the direction of affairs. 

Meanwhile the sense of great evils, and the strong apprehen- 
sion of still greater evils close at hand, had at length produced 
an alliance between the Cavaliers and the Presbyterians. Some 
Presbyterians had, indeed, been disposed to such an alliance even 
before the death of Charles the First : but it was not till after 
the fall of Richard Cromwell that the whole party became eager 
for the restoration of the royal house. There was no longer any 
reasonable hope that the old constitution could be reestablished 
under a new dynasty. One choice only was left, the Stuarts or 
the army. The banished family had committed great faults ; 
but it had dearly expiated those faults, and had undergone a long, 
and, it might be hoped, a salutary training in the school of ad- 
versity. It was probable that Charles the Second would take 
warning by the fate of Charles the First. But, be this as it 
might, the dangers which threatened the country were such that, 
in orvler to avert them, some opinions might well becomp:o- 
mised, and some risks might well be incurred. It seemed but 
too likely that England would fall un-ler the most odious and 
degrading of all kinds of government, under a government uniting 


a 7 l the evils of despotism to all the evils of anarchy. Anything 
w as preferable to the yoke of a succession of incapable and inglo- 
rious tyrants, raised to power, like the Deys of Barbary, by mil- 
itary revolutions recurring at short intervals. Lambert seemed 
likely to be the first of these rulers ; but within a year Lambert 
might give place to Desborough, and Desborough to Harrison. 
As often as the truncheon was transferred from one feeble hand 
to another, the nation would be pillaged for the purpose of be- 
stowing a fresh donative on the troops. If the Presbyterians 
obstinately stood aloof from the Royalists, the state was lost ; and 
men might well doubt whether, by the combined exertions of 
Presbyterians and Royalists, it could be saved. For the dread 
of that invincible army was on all the inhabitants of the island ; 
and the Cavaliers, taught by a hundred disastrous fields how 
little numbers can effect against discipline, were even more com- 
pletely cowed than the Roundheads. 

While the soldiers remained united, all the plots and risings 
of the malecontents were ineffectual. But a few days after the 
second expulsion of the Rump, came tidings which gladdened 
the hearts of all who were attached either to monarchy or to lib- 
erty. That mighty force which had, during many years, acted 
as one man, and which, while so acting, had been found irresisti- 
ble, was at length divided against itself. The army of Scotland 
had done good service to the Commonwealth, and was in the 
highest state of efficiency. It had borne no part in the late rev- 
olutions, and had seen them with indignation resembling the 
indignation which the Roman legions posted on the Danube and 
the Euphrates felt, when they learned that the empire had been 
put up to sale by the Praetorian Guards. It was intolerable that 
certain regiments should, merely because they happened to be 
quartered near Westminster, take on themselves to make and un- 
make several governments in the course of half a year. If it 
were fit that the state should be regulated by the soldiers, those 
8 J liers who upheld the English ascendency on the north of the 
Tweed were as well entitled to a voice as those who garri- 
soned the Tower of London. There appears to have been less 
fanaticism among the troops stationed in Scotland than in any 


other part of the army ; and their general, George Monk, was 
himself the very opposite of a zealot. He had at the com- 
mencement of the civil war, borne arms for the King, had been 
made prisoner by the Roundheads, had then accepted a commis- 
sion from the Parliament, and, with very slender pretensions to 
saintship, had raised himself to high commands by his courage 
and professional skill. He had been an useful servant to both 
the Protectors, and had quietly acquiesced when the officers at 
Westminster had pulled down Richard and restored the Long 
Parliament, and would perhaps have acquiesced as quietly in 
the second expulsion of the Long Parliament, if the provis- 
ional government had abstained from giving him cause of 
offence and apprehension. For his nature was cautious and some- 
what sluggish ; nor was he at all disposed to hazard sure and 
moderate advantages for the chance of obtaining even the most 
splendid success. He seems to have been impelled to attack 
the new rulers of the Commonwealth less by the hope that, if 
he overthrew them, he should become great, than by the fear 
that, if he submitted to them, he should not even be secure. 
Whatever were his motives, he declared himself the cham- 
pion of the oppressed civil power, refused to acknowledge the 
usurped authority of the provisional government, and, at the 
head of seven thousand veterans, marched into England. 

This step was the signal for a general explosion. The peo- 
ple everywhere refused to pay taxes'. The apprentices of the 
City assembled by thousands and clamoured for a free Parlia- 
ment. The fleet sailed up the Thames, and declared against 
the tyranny of the soldiers. The soldiers, no longer under the 
control of one commanding mind, separated into factions. 
Every regiment, afraid lest it should be left alone a mark for 
the vengeance of the oppressed nation, hastened to make a sep- 
arate peace. Lambert, who had hastened northward to encoun- 
ter the army of Scotland, was abandoned by his troops, and be- 
came a prisoner. During thirteen years the civil power had, in 
every conflict, been compelled to yield to the military power. The 
military power now humbled itself before the civil power. The 
Rump, generally hated and despised, but still the only body in 


the country which had any show of legal authority, returned 
again to the house from which it had been twice ignominiously 

In the mean time Monk was advancing towards London. 
Wherever he came, the gentry flocked round him, imploring 
him to use his power for the purpose of restoring peace and 
liberty to the distracted nation. The General, coldblooded, 
taciturn, zealous for no polity and for no religion, maintained 
an impenetrable reserve. What were at this time his plans, 
and whether he had any plan, may well be doubted. His great 
object, apparently, was to keep himself, as long as possible, free 
to choose between several lines of action. Such, indeed, is 
commonly the policy of men who are, like him, distinguished 
rather by wariness than by farsightedness. It was probably not 
till he had been some days in the capital that he had made up 
his mind. The cry of the whole people was for a free Parlia- 
ment ; and there could be no doubt that a Parliament really 
free would instantly restore the exiled family. The Rump and 
the soldiers were still hostile to the House of Stuart. But the 
Rump was universally detested and despised. The power of 
the soldiers was indeed still formidable, but had been greatly 
diminished by discord. They had no head. They had recently 
been, in many parts of the country, arrayed against each other. 
On the very day before Monk reached London, there was a 
fight in the Strand between the cavalry and the infantry. An 
united army had long kept down a divided nation ; but the na- 
tion was now united, and the army was divided. 

During a short time the dissimulation or irresolution of 
Monk kept all parties in a state of painful suspense. At length 
he broke silence, and declared for a free Parliament. 

As soon as his declaration was known, the whole nation 
was wild with delight. Wherever he appeared thousands 
thronged round him, shouting and blessing his name. The 
bells of all England rang joyously : the gutters ran with ale ; 
and, night after night, the sky five miles round London was 
reddened by innumerable bonfires. Those Presbyterian mem- 
bers of the House of Commons who had many years before 


been expelled by the army, returned to their seats, and were 
hailed with acclamations by great multitudes, which filled 
"Westmi aster Hall and Palace Yard. The Independent leaders 
no longer dared to show their faces in the streets, and were 
scarcely safe within their own dwellings. Temporary provision 
was made for the government : writs were issued for a general 
election ; and then that memorable Parliament, which had, in 
the course of twenty eventful years, experienced every variety of 
fortune, which had triumphed over its sovereign, which had been 
enslaved and degraded by its servants, which had been twice 
ejected and twice restored, solemnly decreed its own dissolu- 

The result of the elections was such as might have been 
expected from the temper of the nation. The new House of 
Commons consisted, with few exceptions, of persons friendly to 
the royal family. The Presbyterians formed the majority. 

That there would be a restoration now seemed almost cer- 
tain ; but whether there would be a peaceable restoration was 
matter of painful doubt. The soldiers were in a gloomy and 
savage mood. They hated the title of King. They hated the 
name of Stuart. They hated Presbyterian ism much, and Prel- 
acy more. They saw with bitter indignation that the close of 
their long domination was approaching, and that a life of in- 
glorious toil and penury was before them. They attributed 
their ill fortune to the weakness of some generals, and to the 
treason of others. One hour of their beloved Oliver might even 
now restore the glory which had departed. Betrayed, dis- 
united, and left without any chief in whom they could confide, 
they were yet to be dreaded. It was no light thing to encounter 
the rage and despair of fifty thousand fighting men, whose backs 
no enemy had ever seen. Monk, and those with whom he 
acted, were well aware that the crisis was most perilous. They 
employed every art to soothe and to divide the discontented 
warriors. At the same time vigorous preparation was made 
for a conflict. The army of Scotland, now quartered in London, 
was kept in good humour by bribes, praises, and promises. The 
wealthy citizens grudged nothing to a red coat, and were indeed 


so liberal of their best wine, that warlike saints were some- 
times seen in a condition not very honourable either to their 
religious or to their military character. Some refractory regi- 
ments Monk ventured to disband. In the meantime the greatest 
exertions were made by the provisional government, with the 
strenuous aid of the whole body of the gentry and magistracy, 
to organise the militia. In every county the trainbands were 
held ready to march ; and this force cannot be estimated at less 
than a hundred and twenty thousand men. In Hyde Park 
twenty thousand citizens, well armed and accoutred, passed in 
review, and showed a spirit which justified the hope that, in 
case of need, they would fight manfully for their shops and 
firesides. The fleet was heartily with the nation. It was 
a stirring time, a time of anxiety, yet of hope. The prevailing 
opinion was that England would be delivered, but not without 
a desperate and bloody struggle, and that the class which had so 
long ruled by the sword would perish by the sword. 

Happily the dangers of a conflict were averted. There 
was indeed one moment of extreme peril. Lambert escaped 
from his confinement, and called his comrades to arms. The 
flame of civil war was actually rekindled ; but by prompt and 
vigorous exertion it was trodden out before it had time to 
spread. The luckless imitator of Cromwell was again a pris- 
oner. The failure of his enterprise damped the spirit of the 
soldiers ; and they sullenly resigned themselves to their fate. 

The new Parliament, which, having been called without 
the royal writ, is more accurately described as a Convention, 
met at Westminster. The Lords repaired to the hall, from 
which they had, during more than eleven years, been excluded 
by force. Both Houses instantly invited the King to return to 
his country. He was proclaimed with pomp never before 
known. A gallant fleet convoyed him from Holland to the 
coast of Kent. When he landed, the cliffs of Dover were 
covered by thousands of gazers, among whom scarcely one could 
be found who was not weeping with delight. The journey to 
London was a continued triumph. The whole road from 
Rochester was bordered by booths and tents, and looked like 


an interminable fair. Everywhere flags were flying, bells and 
music sounding, wine and ale flowing in rivers to the health 
of him whose return was the return of peace, of law, and of 
freedom. But in the midst of the general joy, one spot presented 
a dark and threatening aspect. On Blackheath the army 
was drawn up to welcome the sovereign. He smiled, bowed, and 
extended his hand graciously to the lips of the colonels and 
majors. But all his courtesy was vain. The countenances of the 
soldiers were sad and lowering ; and had they given way to their 
feelings, the festive pageant of which they reluctantly made 
a part would have had a mournful and bloody end. But there 
was no concert among them. Discord and defection had left 
them no confidence in their chiefs or in each other. The 
whole array of the City of London was under arms. Numerous 
companies of militia had assembled from various parts of the 
realm, under the command of loyal noblemen and gentlemen, 
to welcome the King. That great day closed in peace ; and 
the restored wanderer reposed safe in the palace of his ances- 



The history of England, during the seventeenth century, is the 
history of the translocation of a limited monarchy, constituted 
after the fashion of the middle ages, into a limited monarchy 
suited to that more advanced state of society in which the pub- 
lic charges can no longer be borne by the estates of the crown, 
and in which the public defence can no longer be entrusted to a 
feudal militia. We have seen that the politicians who were at 
the head of the Long Parliament made, in 1642, a great effort 
to accomplish this change by transferring, directly and formally, 
to the estates of the realm the choice of ministers, the command 
of the army, and the superintendence of the whole executive 
administration. This scheme was, perhaps, the best that could 
then be contrived: but it was completely disconcerted by the 
course which the civil war took. The Houses triumphed, it is 
true ; but not till after such a struggle as made it necessary for 
them to call into existence a power which they could not control, 
and which soon began to domineer over all orders and all par- 
ties. During a few years, the evils inseparable from military 
government were, in some degree, mitigated by the wisdom and 
magnanimity of the great man who held the supreme command. 
But, when the sword, which he had wielded, with energy indeed, 
but with energy always guided by good sense and generally 
tempered by good nature, had passed to captains who possessed 
neither his abilities nor his virtues, it seemed too probable that 
order and liberty would perish in one ignominious ruin. 

That ruin was happily averted. It has been too much the 
practice of writers zealous for freedom to represent the Restor- 
ation as a disastrous event, and to condemn the folly or baseness 
of that Convention, which recalled the royal family without 



exacting new securities against maladministration. Those who 
hold this language do not comprehend the real nature of the 
crisis which followed the deposition of Richard Cromwell. Eng- 
land was in imminent danger of falling under the tyranny of a 
succession of small men raised up and pulled down by military 
caprice. To deliver the country from the domination of the 
soldiers was the first object of every enlightened patriot : but it 
was an object which, while the soldiers were united, the most 
sanguine could scarcely expect to attain. On a sudden a gleam 
of hope appeared. General was opposed to general, army to 
army. On the use which might be made of one auspicious 
moment depended the future destiny of the nation. Our 
ancestors used that moment well. They forgot old injuries, 
waved petty scruples, adjourned to a more convenient season 
all dispute about the reforms which our institutions needed, and 
stood together, Cavaliers and Roundheads, Episcopalians and 
Presbyterians, in firm union, for the old laws of the land against 
military despotism. The exact partition of power among King, 
Lords, and Commons might well be postponed till it had been 
decided whether England should be governed by King, Lords, 
and Commons, or by cuirassiers and pikemen. Had the states- 
men of the Convention taken a different course, had they held 
long debates on the principles of government, had they drawn 
up a new constitution r.nd sent it to Charles, had conferences 
been opened, had couriers been passing and repassing during 
some weeks between Westminster and the Netherlands, with 
projects and counterprojects, replies by Hyde and rejoinders by 
Prynne, the coalition on which the public safety depended would 
have been dissolved : the Presbyterians and Royalists would 
certainly have quarrelled : the military factions might possibly 
have been reconciled ; and the misjudging friends of liberty 
might lon<r have regretted, under a rule worse than that of the 
worst Stuart, the golden opportunity which had been suffered 
to escape. 

The old civil polity was, therefore, by the general consent 
of both the great parties, reestablished. It was again exactly 
what it had been when Charles the First, eighteen years before, 


withdrew from his capital. All those acts of the Long Parlia- 
ment which had received the royal assent were admitted to be 
still in full force. One fresh concession, a concession in which 
the Cavaliers were even more deeply interested than the 
Roundheads, was easily obtained from the restored King. The 
military tenure of laud had been originally created as a means 
of national defence. But in the course of ages whatever was 
useful in the institution had disappeared ; and nothing was left 
but ceremonies and grievances. A landed proprietor who held 
an estate under the crown by knight service, — and it was thus 
that most of the soil of England was held, — had to pay a large 
fine on coming to his property. He could not alienate one acre 
without purchasing a license. When he died, if his domains 
descended to an infant, the sovereign was guardian, and was not 
only entitled to great part of the rents during the minority, but 
could require the ward, under heavy penalties, to marry any 
person of suitable rank. The chief bait which attracted a needy 
sycophant to the court was the hope of obtaining as the reward 
of servility and flattery, a royal letter to an heiress. These 
abuses had perished with the monarchy. That they should not 
revive with it was the wish of every landed gentleman in the 
kingdom. They were, therefore, solemnly abolished by statute; 
and no relic of the ancient tenures in chivalry was allowed to 
remain except those honorary services which are still, at a 
coronation, rendered to the person of the sovereign by some 
lords of manors. 

The troops were now to be disbanded. Fifty thousand men, 
accustomed to the profession of arms, were at once thrown on 
the world : and experience seemed to warrant the belief that 
this change would produce much misery and crime, that the dis- 
charged veterans would be seen begging in every street, or that 
they would be driven by hunger to pillage. But no such result 
followed. In a few months there remained not a trace indica- 
ting that the most formidable army in the world had just been 
absorbed into the mass of the community. The Royalists them- 
selves confessed that, in every department of honest industry, 
the discarded warriors prospered beyond other men, that none 


was charged with any theft or robbery, that none was heard to 
ask an alms, and that, if a baker, a mason, or a waggoner at- 
tracted notice by his diligence and sobriety, he was in all prob- 
ability one of Oliver's old soldiers. 

The military tyranny had passed away ; but it had left deep 
and enduring traces in the public mind. The name of standing 
army was long held in abhorrence : and it is remarkable that 
this feelinof was even stronger ainon? the Cavaliers than anions 
the Roundheads. It oujjht to be considered as a most fortunate 
circumstance that, when our country was, for the first and last 
time, ruled by the sword, the sword was in the hands, not of 
legitimate princes, but of those rebels who slew the King and 
demolished the Church. Had a prince with a title as good as 
that of Charles, commanded an army as good as that of Crom- 
well, there would have been little hope indeed for the liberties 
of England. Happily that instrument by which alone the mon- 
archy could be made absolute became an object of peculiar 
horror and disgust to the monarchical party, and long continued 
to be inseparably associated in the imagination of Royalists and 
Prelatists with regicide and field preaching. A century after 
the death of Cromwell, the Tories still continued to clamour 
against every augmentation of the regular soldiery, and to sound 
the praise of a national militia. So late as the year 1786, a min- 
ister who enjoyed no common measure of their confidence found 
it impossible to overcome their aversion to his scheme of fortify- 
ing the coast: nor did they ever look with entire complacency 
on the standing army, till the French Revolution gave a new 
direction to their apprehensions. 

The coalition which had restored the Kinsr terminated with 
the danger from which it had sprung ; and two hostile parties 
again appeared ready for conflict. Both, indeed, were agreed 
as to the propriety of inflicting punishment on some unhappy 
men who were, at that moment, objects of almost universal 
hatred. Cromwell was no more ; and those who had fled be- 
fore him were forced to content themselves with the miserable 
satisfaction of digging up, hanging, quartering, and burning the 
remains of the greatest prince that has ever ruled England. 


Other objects of vengeance, few indeed, yet too many, were found 
among the republican chiefs. Soon, however, the conquerors, 
glutted with the blood of the regicides, turned against each 
other. The Roundheads, while admitting the virtues of the late 
King, and while condemning the sentence passed upon him by 
an illegal tribunal, yet maintained that his administration had 
been, in many things, unconstitutional, and that the Houses had 
taken arms against him from good motives and on strong 
grounds. The monarchy, these politicians conceived, had no 
worse enemy than the flatterer who exalted prerogative above 
the law, who condemned all opposition to regal encroachments, 
and who reviled, not only Cromwell and Harrison, but Pym 
and Hampden, as traitors. If the King wished for a quiet and 
prosperous reign, he must confide in those who, though they 
had drawn the sword in defence of the invaded privileges of Par- 
liament, had yet exposed themselves to the rage of the soldiers 
in order to save his father, and had taken the chief part in 
bringing back the royal family. 

The feeling of the Cavaliers was widely different. During 
eighteen years they had, through all vicissitudes, been faithful 
to the Crown. Having shared the distress of their prince, were 
they not to share his triumph ? Was no distinction to be made 
between them and the disloyal subject who had fought against 
his rightful sovereign, who had adhered to Richard Cromwell, 
and who had never concurred in the restoration of the Stuarts, 
till it appeared that nothing else could save the nation from the 
tyranny of the army ? Grant that such a man had, by his re- 
cent services, fairly earned his pardon. Yet were his services, 
rendered at the eleventh hour, to be put in comparison with the 
toils and sufferings of those who had borne the burden and heat 
of the day ? Was he to be ranked with men who had no need 
of the royal clemency, with men who had, in every part of their 
lives, merited the royal gratitude ? Above all, was he to be suf- 
fered to retain a fortune raised out of the substance of the ruined 
defenders of the throne ? Was it not enough that his head and his 
patrimonial estate, a hundred times forfeited to justice, were 
iecure, and that he shared, with the rest of the nation, in the bless- 


lugs of that mild government of which he had long been the foe ? 
Was it necessary that he should be rewarded for his treason at 
the expense of men whose only crime was the fidelity with which 
they had observed their oath of allegiance. And what interest 
had the King in gorging his old enemies with prey torn from his 
old friends? What confidence could be placed in men who had 
opposed their sovereign, made war on him, imprisoned him, and 
who, even now, instead of hanging down their heads in shame 
and contrition, vindicated all that they had done, and seemed to 
think that they had given an illustrious proof of loyalty by just 
stopping short of regicide ? It was true they had lately assisted 
to set up the throne : but it was not less true that they had pre- 
viously pulled it down, and that they still avowed principles 
which might impel them to pull it down again. Undoubtedly 
it might be fit that marks of royal approbation should be be- 
stowed on some converts who had been eminently useful : but 
policy, as well as justice and gratitude, enjoined the King to give 
the highest place in his regard to those who, from first to last, 
through good and evil, had stood by his house. On these grounds 
the Cavaliers very naturally demanded indemnity for all that 
they had suffered, and preference in the distribution of the 
favours of the Crown. Some violent members of the party 
went further, and clamoured for large categories of proscrip- 

The political feud was, as usual, exasperated by a religious 
feud. The King found the Church in a singular state. A short 
time before the commencement of the civil war, his father had 
given a reluctant assent to a bill, strongly supported by Falk- 
land, which deprived the Bishops of their seats in the House of 
Lords : but Episcopacy and the Liturgy had never been abol- 
ished by law. The Long Parliament, however, had passed or- 
dinances which had made a complete revolution in Church 
government and in public worship. The new system was, in 
principle, scarcely less Erastian than that which it displaced. 
The Houses, guided chiefly by the counsels of the accomplished 
Selden, had determined to keep the spiritual power strictly 
subordinate to the temporal power. They had refused to declare 


that any form of ecclesiastical polity was of divine origin ; and 
tliey had provided that, from all the Church courts, an appeal 
should lie in the last resort to Parliament. With this highly 
important reservation, it had been resolved to set up in England 
a hierarchy closely resembling that which now exists in Scotland. 
The authority of councils, rising one above another in regular 
gradation, was substituted for the authority of Bishops and 
Archbishops. The Liturgy gave place to the Presbyterian 
Directory. But scarcely had the new regulations been framed, 
when the Independents rose to supreme influence in the state. 
The Independents had no disposition to enforce the ordinances 
touching classical, provincial, and national S3^nods. Those or- 
dinances, therefore, were never carried into full execution. The 
Presbyterian system was fully established nowhere but in Mid- 
dlesex and Lancashire. In the other fifty counties almost every 
parish seems to have been unconnected with the neighbouring 
parishes. In some districts, indeed, the ministers formed them- 
selves into voluntary associations, for the purpose of mutual 
help and counsel ; but these associations had no coercive power. 
The patrons of livings, being now checked by neither Bishop 
nor Presbytery, would have been at liberty to confide the cure 
of souls to the most scandalous of mankind, but for the ar- 
bitrary intervention of Oliver. He established, by his own 
authority, a board of commissioners, called Triers. Most of 
these persons were Independent divines ; but a few Presbyterian 
ministers and a few laymen had seats. The certificate of the 
Triers stood in the place both of institution and of induction ; 
and without such a certificate no person could hold a benefice. 
This was undoubtedly one of the most despotic acts ever done 
by any English ruler. Yet, as it was generally felt that, with- 
out some such precaution,"the country would be overrun by 
ignorant and drunken reprobates, bearing the name and receiv- * 
ing the pay of friinisters, some highly respectable persons, who 
were not in general friendly to Cromwell, allowed that, on this 
occasion, he had been a public benefactor. The presentees 
whom the Triers had approved took possession of the rectories, 
cultivated the glebe lands, collected the tithes, prayed without 


book or surplice, and administered the Eucharist to communi- 
cants seated at long tables. 

Thus the ecclesiastical polity of the realm was in inextri- 
cable confusion. Episcopacy was the form of government pre- 
scribed by the old law which was still unrepealed. The form 
of government prescribed by parliamentary ordinance was 
Presbyterian. But neither the old law nor the parliamentary 
ordinance was practical^ in force. The Church actually estab- 
lished may be described as an irregular body made up of a few 
Presbyteries and many Independent congregations, which were 
all held down and held together by the authority of the govern- 

Of those who had been active in bringing back the Bang, 
many were zealous for Synods and for the Directory, and many 
were desirous to terminate by a compromise the religious dis- 
sensions which had long agitated England. Between the big- 
oted followers of Laud and the bigoted followers of Knox there 
could be neither peace nor truce : but it did not seem impossible 
to effect an accommodation between the moderate Episcopalians 
of the school of Usher and the moderate Presbyterians of the 
school of Baxter. The moderate Episcopalians would admit 
that a Bishop might lawfully be assisted by a council. The 
moderate Presbyterians would not deny that each provincial 
assembly might lawfully have a permanent president, and that 
this president might lawfully be called a Bishop. There might 
be a revised Liturgy which should not exclude extemporaneous 
prayer, a baptismal service in which the sign of the cross might 
be used or omitted at discretion, a communion service at which 
the faithful might sit if their conscience forbade them to kneel. 
But to no such plan could the great bodies of the Cavaliers 
listen with patience. The religious members of that party were 
conscientiously attached to the whole system of their Church. 
She had been dear to their murdered King. She had consoled 
them in defeat and penury. Her service, so often whispered in 
an inner chamber during the season of trial, had such a charm 
for them that they were unwilling to part with a single response. 
Other Royalists, who made little pretence to piety, yet loved 


the episcopal church because she was the foe of their foes. 
They valued a prayer or a ceremony, not on account of the 
comfort which it conveyed to themselves, but on account of the 
vexation which it gave to the Roundheads, and were so far from 
being disposed to purchase union by concession that they ob- 
jected to concession chiefly because it tended to produce union. 
Such feelings, though blamable, were natural, and not wholly 
inexcusable. The Puritans had undoubtedly, in the day of their 
power, given cruel provocation. They ought to have learned, 
if from nothing else, yet from their own discontents, from their 
own struggles, from their own victory, from the fall of that 
proud hierarchy by which they had been so heavily oppressed, 
that, in England, and in the seventeenth century, it was not in 
the power of the civil magistrate to drill the minds of men into 
conformity with his own system of theology. They proved, 
however, as intolerant and as meddling as ever Laud had been. 
They interdicted under heavy penalties the use of the Book of 
Common Prayer, not only in churches, but even in private 
houses. It was a crime in a child to read by the bedside of a 
sick parent one of those beautiful collects which had soothed 
the griefs of forty generations of Christians. Severe punish- 
ments were denounced against such as should presume to blame 
the Calvinistic mode of worship. Clergymen of respectable 
character were not only ejected from their benefices by thou- 
sands, but were frequently exposed to the outrages of a fanatical 
rabble. Churches and sepulchres, fine works of art and curious 
remains of antiquity, were brutally defaced. The Parliament 
resolved that all pictures in the royal collection which contained 
representations of Jesus or of the Virgin Mother should be 
burned. Sculpture fared as ill as painting. Nymphs and 
Graces, the work of Ionian chisels, were delivered over to Puri- 
tan stonemasons to be made decent. Against the lighter vices 
the ruling faction waged war with a zeal little tempered by 
humanity or by common sense. Sharp laws were passed against 
betting. It was enacted that adultery should be punished with 
death. The illicit intercourse of the sexes, even where neither 
violence nor seduction was imputed, where no public scandal 


was given, where no conjugal right was violated, was made a 
misdemeanour. Public amusements, from the masques which 
were exhibited at the mansions of the great down to the wrest- 
ling matches and grinning matches on village greens, were vig- 
orously attacked. One ordinance directed that all the May- 
jooles in England should forthwith be hewn down. Another 
proscribed all theatrical diversions. The playhouses were to be 
dismantled, the spectators fined, the actors whipped at the cart's 
tail. Rope-dancing, puppet-shows, bowls, horse-racing, were re- 
garded with no friendly eye. But bearbaiting, then a favourite 
diversion of high and low, was the abomination which most 
strongly stirred the wrath of the austere sectaries. It is to be 
remarked that their antipathy to this sport had nothing in com- 
mon with the feeling which has, in our own time, induced the 
legislature to interfere for the purpose of protecting beasts 
against the wanton cruelty of men. The Puritan hated bear- 
baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave 
pleasure to the spectators. Indeed, he generally contrived to 
enjoy the double ])leasure of tormenting both spectators and 

Perhaps no single circumstance more strongly illustrates 
the temper of the precisians than their conduct respecting 

* How little compassion for the bear had to do with the matter is sufficiently 
proved by the following extract from a paper entitled A perfect Diurnal of some 
Passages of Parliament, and from other Parts of the Kingdom, from Monday 
July 24th, to Monday July 31st, 1643. " Upon the Queeir's coming from Holland, 
she brought with her, besides a company of savage-like ruffians, a company of 
savage bears, to what purpose you may judge by the sequel. Those bears were 
left about Newark, and were brought into country towns constantly on the Lord's 
day to be baited, such is the religion those here related would settle amongst us; 
and, if any went about to hinder or but speak against their damnable profana- 
tions, they were presently noted as Roundheads and Puritans, and sure to be 
plundered for it. But some of Colonel Cromwell's forces coming by accident into 
Uppingham town, in Rutland, on the Lord's day. found these bears playing there 
in the usual manner, and, in the height of their sport, caused them to be seized 
upon, tied to a tree and shot." This was by no means a solitary instance. Colonel 
Pride, when Sheriff: of Surrey, ordered the beasts in the bear garden of South- 
wark to be killed. He is represented by a loyal satirist as defending the act 
thus : ''The first thing that is upon my spirits is the killing of the benrs. for 
which the people hate me, and call me all the names in the rainbow. But did not 
David kill a bear ? Did not the Lord Deputy Ireton kill a bear ? Did not anoh- 
er lord of ours kill live bears?" — Last Speech and Dying "Words of Thomas 


Christmas day. Christmas had been, from time immemorial, 
the season of joy and domestic affection, the season when fami- 
lies assembled, when children came home from school, when 
quarrels were made up, when carols were heard in every street, 
when every house was decorated with evergreens, and every 
table was loaded with good cheer. At that season all hearts 
not utterlv destitute of kindness were enlarged and softened. 
At that season the poor were admitted to partake largely of the 
overflowings of the wealth of the rich, whose bounty was pecu- 
liarly acceptable on account of the shortness of the days and 
of the severity of the weather. At that season, the interval be- 
tween landlord and tenant, master and servant, was less marked 
than through the rest of the year. Where there is much 
enjoyment there w r ill be some excess : yet, on the whole, the 
spirit in which the holiday' was kept was not unworthy of a 
Christian festival. The long Parliament gave orders, in 1644, 
that the twenty-fifth of December should be strictly observed 
as a fast, and that all men should pass it in humbly bemoan- 
ing the great national sin which they and their fathers had 
so often committed on that day by romping under the mistle- 
toe, eating boar's head, and drinking ale flavored with roasted 
apples. No public act of that time seems to have irritated 
the common people more. On the next anniversar}' of the fes- 
tival formidable riots broke out in many places. The consta- 
bles were resisted, the magistrates insulted, the houses of noted 
zealots attacked, and the prescribed service of the day openly 
read in the churches. 

Such was the spirit of the extreme Puritans, both Presby- 
terian and Independent. Oliver, indeed, was little disposed to 
be either a persecutor or a meddler. But Oliver, the head of 
a party, and consequently, to a great extent, the slave of a party, 
could not govern altogether according to his own inclinations. 
Even under his administration many magistrates, within their 
own jurisdiction, made themselves as odious as Sir Iludibras, 
interfered with all the pleasures of the neighbourhood, dispersed 
festive meetings, and put fiddlers in the stocks. Still more 
formidable was the zeal of the soldiers. In every village where 


they appeared there was an end of dancing, bellringing, and 
hockey. In London the} 7 several times interrupted theatrical 
performances at which the Protector had the judgment and good 
nature to connive. 

With the fear and hatred inspired by such a tyranny con- 
tempt was largely mingled. The peculiarities of the Puritan, 
his look, his dress, his dialect, his strange scruples, had been, 
ever since the time of Elizabeth, favourite subjects with mock- 
ers. But these peculiarities appeared far more grotesque in a 
faction which ruled a great empire than in obscure and perse- 
cuted congregations. The cant, which had moved laughter 
when it was heard on the stage from Tribulation Wholesome 
and Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, was still more laughable when it 
proceeded from the lips of Generals and Councillors of State. 
It is also to be noticed that during the civil troubles several 
sects had sprung into existence, whose eccentricities surpassed 
anything that had before been seen in England. A mad tailor, 
named Lodowick Muggleton, wandered from pothouse to pot- 
house, tippling ale, and denouncing eternal torments against those 
who refused to believe, on his testimony, that tbe Supreme Being 
was only six feet high, and that the sun was just four miles from 
the earth.* George Fox had raised a tempest of derision by pro- 
claiming that it was a violation of Christian sincerity to desig- 
nate a single person by a plural pronoun, and that it was an 
idolatrous homage to Janus and Woden to talk about January 
and Wednesday. His doctrine, a few years later, was embraced 
by some eminent men, and rose greatly in the public estima- 
tion. But at the time of the Restoration the Quakers were 
popularlv regarded as the most despicable of fanatics. By the 
Puritans they were treated with severity here, and were perse- 
cuted to the death in New England. Nevertheless tbe public, 
which seldom makes nice distinctions, often confounded the 
Puritan with the Quaker. Both were schismatics. Both hated 
episcopacy and the Liturgy. Both had what seemed extrava- 
gant whimsies about dress, diversions and postures. Widely as 

* See Perm's New Witnesses proved Old Heretics, and Muggleton's works, passim. 


the two differed in opinion, they were popularly classed together 
as canting schismatics ; and whatever was ridiculous or odious 
in either increased the scorn and aversion which the multitude 
felt for both. 

Before the civil wars, even those who most disliked the 
opinions and manners of the Puritan were forced to admit 
that his moral conduct was generally, in essentials, blameless ; 
but this praise was now no longer bestowed, and, unfortunately, 
was no longer deserved. The general fate of sects is to obtain 
a high reputation for sanctity while they are oppressed, and to 
lose it as soon as they become powerful : and the reason is obvi- 
ous. It is seldom that a man enrolls himself in a proscribed 
body from any but conscientious motives. Such a body, there- 
fore, is composed, with scarcely an exception, of sincere persons. 
The most rigid discipline that can be enforced within a religious 
society is a very feeble instrument of purification, when com- 
pared with a little sharp persecution from without. We may 
be certain that very few persons, not seriously impressed by 
religious convictions, applied for baptism while Diocletian was 
vexing the Church, or joined themselves to Protestant con- 
gregations at the risk of being burned by Bonner. But, when 
a sect becomes powerful, when its favour is the road to riches 
and dignities, worldly and ambitious men crowd into it, talk its 
language, conform strictly to its ritual, mimic its peculiarities, 
and frequently go beyond its honest members in all the outward 
indications of zeal. No discernment, no watchfulness, on the 
part of ecclesiastical rulers, can prevent the intrusion of such 
false brethren. The tares and wheat must grow together. 
Soon the world begins to find out that the godly are not better 
than other men, and argues, with some justice, that, if not better, 
they must be much worse. In no long time all those signs 
which were formerly regarded as characteristic of a saint are 
regarded as characteristic of a knave. 

Thus it was with the English Nonconformists. They had 
been oppressed; and oppression had kept them a pure body. 
They then became supreme in the state. No man could hope 
to rise to eminence and command but by their favour. Their 


favour was to be gained only by exchanging with them the 
signs and passwords of spiritual fraternity. One of the firsi; 
resolutions adopted by Barebone's Parliament, the most intensely 
Puritanical of all our political assemblies, was that no person 
should be admitted into the public service till the House should 
be satisfied of his real godliness. What were then considered 
as the signs of real godliness, the sadcoloured dress, the sour 
look, the straight hair, the nasal whine, the speech interspersed 
with quaint texts, the Sunday, gloomy as a Pharisaical Sabbath, 
were easily imitated by men to whom all religions were the 
same. The sincere Puritans soon found themselves lost in a 
multitude, not merely of men of the world, but of the very worst 
sort of men of the world. For the most notorious libertine who 
had fought under the royal standard might justly be thought 
virtuous when compared with some of those who, while they 
talked about sweet experiences and comfortable scriptures, lived 
in the constant practice of fraud, rapacity, and secret de- 
bauchery. The people, with a rashness which we may justly 
lament, but at which we cannot wonder, formed their estimate 
of the whole body from these hypocrites. The theology, the 
manners, the dialect of the Puritan were thus associated in the 
public mind with the darkest and meanest vices. As soon as 
the Restoration had made it safe to avow enmity to the party 
w r hich had so long been predominant, a general outcry against 
Puritanism rose from every corner of the kingdom, and was 
often swollen by the voices of those very dissemblers wdiose 
villanv had brought disgrace on the Puritan name. 

Thus the two great parties, which, after along contest, had for 
^a moment concurred in restoring monarchy, w r ere, both in poli- 
tics and in religion, again opposed to each other. The great 
body of the nation leaned to the Royalists. The crimes of 
Strafford and Laud, the excesses of the Star Chamber and of 
the High Commission, the great services which the Long Par- 
liament had, during the first year of its existence, rendered to 
the state, had faded from the minds of men. The execution of 
Charles the First, the sullen tyranny of the Rump, the violence 
of the army, were remembered with loathing ; and the multi- 


tude was inclined to hold all who had withstood the late King 
responsible for his death and for the subsequent disasters. 

The House of Commons, having been elected while the 
Presbyterians were dominant, by no means represented the gen- 
eral sense of the people. Most" of the members, while execra- 
ting Cromwell and Bradshaw, reverenced the memory of Essex 
and of Pym. One sturdy Cavalier, who ventured to declare 
that all who had drawn the sword against Charles the First 
were as much traitors as those who had cut off his head, was 
called to order, placed at the bar, and reprimanded by the 
Speaker. The general wish of the House undoubtedly was to 
settle the ecclesiastical disputes in a manner satisfactory to the 
moderate Puritans. " But to such a settlement both the court 
and the nation were averse. 

The restored King was at this time more loved by the peo- 
ple than any of his predecessors had ever been. The calamities 
of his house, the heroic death of his father, his own long suffer- 
ings and romantic adventures, made him an object of tender inter- 
est. His return had delivered the country from an intolerable 
bondage. Recalled by the voice of both the contending factions, 
he was in a position which enabled him to arbitrate between 
them ; and in some respects he was well qualified for the task. 
He had received from nature excellent parts and a happy tem- 
per. His education had been such as might have been expected 
to develope his understanding, and to form him to the practice 
of every public and private virtue. He had passed through all 
varieties of fortune, and had seen both sides of human nature. 
Hehad,while very young, been driven forth from a palace to a life 
of exile, penury, and danger. He had, at the age when the mind 
and body are in their highest perfection, and when the first 
effervescence of boyish passions should have subsided, been re- 
called from his wanderings to wear a crown. He had been 
taught by bitter experience how much baseness, perfidy, and 
ingratitude may lie hid under the obsequious demeanor of 
courtiers. He had found, on the other hand, in the huts of the 
poorest, true nobility of soul. When wealth was offered to any 
who would betray him, when death was denounced against all 


who should shelter him, cottagers and serving men had kept his 
secret truly, and had kissed his hand under his mean disguises 
with as much reverence as if he had been seated on his ancestral 
throne. From such a school it might have been expected that 
a young man who wanted neither abilities nor amiable qualities 
would have come forth a great and good King. Charles came 
forth from that school with social habits, with polite and engaging 
manners, and with some talent for lively conversation, addicted 
beyond measure to sensual indulgence, fond of sauntering and 
of frivolous amusements, incapable of selfdenial and of exer- 
tion, without faith in human virtue or in human attachment, 
without desire of renown, and without sensibility to re- 
proach. According to him, every person was to be bought : but 
some people haggled more about their price than others ; and 
when this haggling was very obstinate and very skilful it was 
called by some fine name. The chief trick by which clever men 
kept up the price of their abilities was called integrity. The 
chief trick by which handsome women kept up the price of their 
beauty was called modesty. The love of God, the love of coun- 
try, the love of family, the love of friends, were phrases of the 
same sort, delicate and convenient synonymes for the love of 
self. Thinking thus of mankind, Charles naturally cared very 
little what they thought of him. Honour and shame were 
scarcely more to him than light and darkness to the blind. His 
contempt of flattery has been highly commended, but seems, 
when viewed in connection with the rest of his character, to de- 
serve no commendation. It is possible to be below flattery as well 
as above it. One who trusts nobody will not trust sycophants. 
One who does not value real glory will not value its counterfeit. 
It is creditable to Charles's temper that, ill as he thought 
of his species, he never became a misanthrope. He saw little 
in men but what was hateful. Yet he did not hate them. Nay, 
he was so far humane that it was highly disagreeable to him to 
see their sufferings or to hear their complaints. This, how- 
ever, is a sort of humanity which, though amiable and laudable 
in a private man whose power to help or hurt is bounded by a 
narrow circle, has in princes often been rather a vice than a 


virtue. More than one well disposed ruler has given up whole 
provinces to rapine and oppression, merely from a wish to see 
none but happy faces round his own board and in his own 
walks. No man is fit to govern great societies who hesitates 
about disobliging the few who have access to him, for the sake 
of the many whom he will never see. The facility of Charles 
was such as has perhaps never been found in any man of equal 
sense. He was a slave without being a dupe. Worthless men 
and women, to the very bottom of whose hearts he saw, and 
whom he knew to be destitute of affection for him and unde- 
serving of his confidence, could easily wheedle him out of titles, 
places, domains, state secrets and pardons. He bestowed much ; 
yet he neither enjoyed the pleasure nor acquired the fame of 
beneficence. He never gave spontaneously; but it was painful 
to him to refuse. The consequence was that his bounty gen- 
erally went, not to those who deserved it best, nor even to 
those whom he liked best, but to the most shameless and im- 
portunate suitor who could obtain an audience. 

The motives which governed the political conduct of Charles 
the Second differed widely from those by which his predeces- 
sor and his successor were actuated. He was not a man to be 
imposed upon by the patriarchal theory of government and the 
doctrine of divine right. He was utterly without ambition. 
He detested business, and would sooner have abdicated his 
crown than have undergone the trouble of really directing the 
administration. Such was his aversion to toil, and such his 
ignorance of affairs, that the very clerks who attended him 
when he sate in council could not refrain from sneering at his 
frivolous remarks, and at his childish impatience. Neither 
gratitude nor revenge had any share in determining his course ; 
for never was there a mind on which both services and injuries 
left such faint and transitory impressions. He wished merely 
to be a King such as Lewis the Fifteenth of France afterwards 
was ; a King who could draw without limit on the treasury for 
the gratification of his private tastes, who could hire with 
wealth and honours persons capable of assisting him to kill the 
time, and who, even when the state was brought by maladmin- 



istration to the depths of humiliation and to the brink of ruin, 
could still exclude unwelcome truth from the purlieus of his 
own seraglio, and refuse to see and hear whatever might dis- 
turb his luxurious repose. For these ends, and for these ends 
alone, he wished to obtain arbitrary power, if it could be ob- 
tained without risk or trouble. In the religious disputes which 
divided his Protestant subjects his conscience was not at all in- 
terested. For his opinions oscillated in contented suspense be- 
tween infidelity and Popery. But, though his conscience was 
neutral in the quarrel between the Episcopalians and the Pres- 
byterians, his taste was by no means so. His favourite vices 
were precisely those to which the Puritans were least indul- 
gent. He could not get through one day without the help of 
diversions which the Puritans regarded as sinful. As a man 
eminently well bred, and keenly sensible of the ridiculous, he 
was moved to contemptuous mirth by the Puritan oddities. He 
had indeed some reason to dislike the rigid sect. He had, at 
the age when the passions are most impetuous and when levity 
is most pardonable, spent some months in Scotland, a King in 
name, but in fact a state prisoner in the hands of austere Pres- 
byterians. Not content with requiring him to conform to their 
worship and to subscribe their Covenant, they had watched all 
his motions, and lectured him on all his youthful follies. He 
had been compelled to give reluctant attendance at endless 
prayers and sermons, and might think himself fortunate when 
he was not insolently reminded from the pulpit of his own frail- 
ties, of his father's tyranny, and of his mother's idolatry. In- 
deed he had been so miserable during this part of his life that 
the defeat which made him again a wanderer might be regarded 
as a deliverance rather than as a calamity. Under the influ- 
ence of such feelings as these Charles was desirous to depress 
the party which had resisted his father. 

The King's brother, James Duke of York, took the same 
side. Though a libertine, James was diligent, methodical, 
and fond of authority and business. His understanding was 
singularly slow and narrow, and his temper obstinate, harsh, 
and unforgiving. That such a prince should have looked with 


no good will on the free institutions of England, and on the 
party which was peculiarly zealous for those institutions, can 
excite no surprise. As yet the Duke professed himself a ineui« 
ber of the Anglican Church • but he had already shown inclina- 
tions which had seriously alarmed good Protestants. 

The person on whom devolved at this time the greatest part 
of the labour of governing was Edward Hyde, Chancellor of the 
realm, who was soon created Earl of Clarendon. The respect 
which we justly feel for Clarendon as a writer must not blind 
us to the faults which he committed as a statesman. Some of 
those faults, however, are explained and excused by the unfor- 
tunate position in which he stood. He had, during the first year 
of the Long Parliament, been honourably distinguished among 
the senators who laboured to redress the grievances of the 
nation. One of the most odious of those grievances, the Coun- 
cil of York, had been removed in consequence chiefly of his 
exertions. When the great schism took place, when the reform- 
ing party and the conservative party first appeared marshalled 
against each other, he, with many wise and good men, took 
the conservative side. He thenceforward followed the fortunes 
of the court, enjoyed as large a share of the confidence of Charles 
the First as the reserved nature and tortuous policy of that 
prince allowed to any minister, and subsequently shared the 
exile and directed the political conduct of Charles the Second. 
At the Restoration Hyde became chief minister. In a few 
months it was announced that he was closely related by affinity 
to the royal house. His daughter had become, by a secret mar- 
riage, Duchess of York. His grandchildren might perhaps wear 
the crown. He was raised by this illustrious connection over 
the heads of the old nobility of the land, and was for a time 
supposed to be allpowerful. In some respects he was well fitted 
for his great place. No man wrote abler state papers. No 
man spoke with more weight and dignity in Council and in 
Parliament. No man was better acquainted with general 
maxims of statecraft. No man observed the varieties of charac- 
ter with a more discriminating eye. It must be added that he 
had a strong sense of moral and religious obligation, a sincere 


reverence for the laws of his country, and a conscientious regard 
for the honour and interest of the Crown. But his temper was 
sour, arrogant, and impatient of opposition. Above all, he had 
been long an exile ; and this circumstance alone would have 
completely disqualified him for the supreme direction of affairs. 
It is scarcely possible that a politician, who has been compelled 
by civil troubles to go into banishment, and to pass many of tie 
best years of his life abroad, can be fit, on the day on which ho 
returns to his native land, to be at the head of the government. 
Clarendon was no exception to this rule. He had left England 
with a mind heated by a fierce conflict which had ended in the 
downfall of his party and of his own fortunes. From 1G-16 to 
1G00 he had lived beyond sea, looking on all that passed at 
home from a great distance, and through a false medium. His 
notions of public affairs were necessarily derived from the reports 
of plotters, many of whom were ruined and desperate men. 
Events naturally seemed to him auspicious, not in proportion as 
they increased the prosperity and glory of the nation, but in 
proportion as they tended to hasten the hour of his own return. 
His wish, a wish which he has not disguised, was that, till his 
countrymen brought back the old line, they might never enjoy 
quiet or freedom. At length he returned ; and, without having 
a single week to look about him, to mix with society, to note the 
changes which fourteen eventful years had produced in the 
national character and feelings, he was at once set to rule the 
state. In such circumstances, a minister of the greatest tact and 
docility would probably have fallen into serious errors. But 
tact and docility made no part of the character of Clarendon. 
To him England was still the England of his youth ; and he 
sternly frowned down every theory and every practice which 
had sprung up during his own exile. Though he was far from 
meditating any attack on the ancient and undoubted power of 
the House of Commons, he saw with extreme uneasiness the 
growth of that power. The royal prerogative, for which he had 
long suffered, and by which he had at length been raised to 
wealth and dignity, was sacred in his eyes. The Roundheads 
he regarded both with political and with personal aversion. To 


the Anglican Church he had always been strongly attached, 
and had repeatedly, where her interests were concerned, 
separated himself with regret from his dearest friends. His zeal 
for Episcopacy and for the Book of Common Prayer was now 
more ardent than ever, and was mingled with a vindictive hatred 
of the Puritans, which did him little honour either as a states- 
man or as a Christian. 

While the House of Commons which had recalled the royal 
family was sitting, it was impossible to effect the re-establish- 
ment of the old ecclesiastical system. Not only were the inten- 
tions of the court strictly concealed, but assurances which qui- 
eted the minds of the moderate Presbyterians were given by 
the King in the most solemn manner. He had promised, before 
his restoration, that he would grant liberty of conscience to his 
subjects. He now repeated that promise, and added a promise 
to use his best endeavours for the purpose of effecting a compro- 
mise between the contending sects. He wished, he said, to see 
the spiritual jurisdiction divided between bishops and synods. 
The Liturgy should be revised by a body of learned divines, 
one-half of whom should be Presbyterians. The questions 
respecting the surplice, the posture at the Eucharist, and the 
sign of the cross in baptism, should be settled in a way which 
would set tender consciences at ease. When the Kinsr had thus 
laid asleep the vigilance of those whom he most feared, he dis- 
solved the Parliament. He had already given his assent to an 
act by which an amnesty was granted, with few exceptions, to 
all who, during the late troubles, had been guilty of political 
offences. He had also obtained from the Commons a grant for 
life of taxes, the annual product of which was estimated at twelve 
hundred thousand pounds. The actual income, indeed, during 
some years, amounted to little more than a million : but this 
sum, together with the hereditary revenue of the crown, was 
then sufficient to defray the expenses of the government in time 
of peace. Nothing was allowed for a standing army. The 
nation was siek of the very name ; and the least mention of 
such a force would have incensed and alarmed all parties. 

Early in 1GG1 took place a general election. The people 


were mad with loyal enthusiasm. The capital was excited by 
preparations for the most splendid coronation that had ever 
been known. The result was that a body of representatives 
was returned, such as England had never yet seen. A large 
proportion of the successful candidates were men who had 
fought for the Crown and the Church, and whose minds had been 
exasperated by many injuries and insults suffered at the hands 
of the Roundheads. When the members met, the passions 
which animated each individually acquired new strength from 
sympathy. The House of Commons was, during some years, 
more zealous for royalty than the King, more zealous for epis- 
copacy than the Bishops. Charles and Clarendon were almost 
terrified at the completeness of their own success. They found 
themselves in a situation not unlike that in which Lewis the 
Eighteenth and the Duke of Richelieu were placed while the 
Chamber of 1815 was sitting. Even if the King had been 
desirous to fulfill the promises which he had made to the Pres- 
byterians, it would have been out of his power to do so. It 
was indeed only by the strong exertion of his influence that he 
could prevent the victorious Cavaliers from rescinding the act 
of indemnity, and retaliating without mercy all that they had 

The Commons began by resolving that every member should, 
on pain of expulsion, take the sacrament according to the form 
prescribed by the old Liturgy, and that the Covenant should be 
burned by the hangman in Palace Yard. An act was passed, 
which not only acknowledged the power of the sword to be 
solely in the King, but declared that in no extremity whatever 
could the two Houses be justified in withstanding him by force. 
Another act was passed which required every officer of a cor- 
poration to receive the Eucharist according to the rites of the 
Church of England, and to swear that he held resistance to the 
King's authority to be in all cases unlawful. A few hotheaded 
men wished to brin£ in a bill, which should at once annul all the 
statutes passed by the Long Parliament, and should restore the 
Star Chamber and the High Commission ; but the reaction, vio- 
lent as it was, did not proceed quite to this length. It still con- 


tinued to be the law that a Parliament should be held every 
three years : but the stringent clauses which directed the return- 
ing officers to proceed to election at the proper time, even with- 
out the royal writ, were repealed. The Bishops were restored 
to their seats in the Upper House. The old ecclesiastical pol- 
ity and the old Liturgy were revived without any modification 
which had any tendency to conciliate even the most reasonable 
Presbyterians. Episcopal ordination was now, for the first 
time, made an indispensable qualification for church preferment. 
About two thousand ministers of religion, whose conscience 
did not suffer them to conform, were driven from their benefices 
in one day. The dominant party exultingly reminded the suf- 
ferers that the Long Parliament, when at the height of power, 
had turned out a still greater number of Royalist divines. 
The reproach was but too well founded : but the Long Parlia- 
ment had at least allowed to the divines whom it ejected a 
provision sufficient to keep them from starving ; and this exam- 
ple the Cavaliers, intoxicated with animosity, had not the jus- 
tice and humanity to follow. 

Then came penal statutes against Nonconformists, statutes 
for which precedents might too easily be found in the Puritan 
legislation, but to which the King could not give his assent 
without a breach of promises publicly made, in the most impor- 
tant crisis of his life, to those on whom his fate depended. 
The Presbyterians, in extreme distress and terror, fled to the 
foot of the throne, and pleaded their recent services and the 
royal faith solemnly and repeatedly plighted. The King 
wavered. He could not deny his own hand and seal. He 
could not but be conscious that he owed much to the petitioners. 
He was little in the habit of resisting importunate solicitation. 
His temper was not that of a persecutor. He disliked the 
Puritans indeed ; but in him dislike was a languid feeling, very 
little resembling the energetic hatred which had burned in the 
heart of Laud. He was, moreover, partial to the Roman 
Catholic religion ; and he knew that it would be impossible to 
grant liberty of worship to the professors of that religion with- 
out extending the same indulgence to Protestant dissenters. 


He therefore made a feeble attempt to restrain the intolerant 
zeal of the House of Commons ; but that House was under the 
influence of far deeper convictions and far stronger passions 
than his own. After a faint struggle he yielded, and passed, 
with the show of alacrity, a series of odious acts against the 
separatists. It was made a crime to attend a dissenting place 
of worship. A single justice of the peace might convict without 
a jury, and might, for the third offence, pass sentence of trans- 
portation beyond sea for seven years. With refined cruelty it 
was provided that the offender should not be transported to 
New England, where he was likely to find sympathising friends. 
If he returned to his own country before the expiration of his 
term of exile, he was liable to capital punishment. A new and 
most unreasonable test was imposed on divines who had been 
deprived of their benefices for nonconformity ; and all who 
refused to take that test were prohibited from coming within 
five miles of any town which was governed by a corporation, of 
any town which was represented in Parliament, or of any town 
where they had themselves resided as ministers. The magis- 
trates, by whom these rigorous statutes were to be enforced, 
were in general men inflamed by party spirit and by the re- 
membrance of wrongs suffered in the time of the commonwealth. 
The gaols were therefore soon crowded with dissenters ; and, 
among the sufferers, were some of whose genius and virtue any 
Christian society might well be proud. 

The Church of England was not ungrateful for the protec- 
tion which she received from the government. From the first 
day of her existence, she had been attached to monarchy. 
But, during the quarter of a century which followed the Restor- 
ation, her zeal for royal authority and hereditary right passed 
all bounds. She had suffered with the House of Stuart. 
She had been restored with that House. She was connected 
with it by common interests, friendships, and enmities It 
seemed impossible that a day could ever come when the ties 
which bound her to the children of her august martyr would be 
sundered, and w T hen the loyalty in which she gloried would 
cease to be a pleasing and profitable duty. She accordingly 


magnified in fulsome phrase that prerogative which was con- 
stantly employed to defend and to aggrandise her, and repro- 
hated, much at her ease, the depravity of those whom oppres- 
sion, from which she was exempt, had goaded to rebellion. 
filer favourite theme was the doctrine of non-resistance. That 
doctrine she taught without any qualification, and followed 
out to all its extreme consequences. Her disciples were never 
weary of repeating that in no conceivable case, not even if 
England were cursed with a King resembling Busiris or 
Phalaris, with a King who, in defiance of law, and without the 
pretence of justice, should daily doom hundreds of innocent 
victims to torture and death, would all the Estates of the realm 
united be justified in withstanding his tyranny by physical 
force. Happily the principles of human nature afford abundant 
security that such theories will never be more than theories. 
The day of trial came ; and the very men who had most loudly 
and most sincerely professed this extravagant loyalty were, in 
every county of England arrayed in arms against the throne. 

Property all over the kingdom was now again changing 
hands. The national sales, not having been confirmed by Act 
of Parliament, were regarded by the tribunals as nullities. 
The bishops, the deans, the chapters, the Royalist nobility 
and gentry, reentered on their confiscated estates, and ejected 
even purchasers who had given fair prices. The losses which 
the Cavaliers had sustained during the ascendency of their 
opponents were thus in part repaired ; but in part only. All 
actions for mesne profits were effectually barred by the general 
amnesty ; and the numerous Royalists, who, in order to discharge 
fines imposed by the Long Parliament, or in order to purchase 
the favour of powerful Roundheads, had sold lands for much 
less than the real value, were not relieved from the le^ral con- 
sequences of their own acts. 

While these changes were in progress, a change still more 
important took place in the morals and manners of the com- 
munity. Those passions and tastes which, under the rule of 
the Puritans, had been sternly repressed, and, if gratified at all, 
had been gratified by stealth, broke forth with ungovernable 


violence as soon as the check was withdrawn. Men flew to 
frivolous amusements and to criminal pleasures with the greedi- 
ness which long and enforced abstinence naturally produces. 
Little restraint was imposed by public opinion. For the nation, 
nauseated with cant, suspicious of all pretensions to sanctity, 
and still smarting from the recent tyranny of rulers austere in 
life and powerful in prayer, looked for a time with complacency 
on the softer and gayer vices. Still less restraint was imposed 
by the government. Indeed there was no excess which was 
not encouraged by the ostentatious profligacy of the King and 
of his favourite courtiers. A few counsellors of Charles the 
First, who were now no longer young, retained the decorous 
gravity which had been thirty years before in fashion at White- 
hall. Such were Clarendon himself, and his friends, Thomas 
Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, Lord Treasurer, and James 
Butler, Duke ot Ormond, who, having through many vicissitudes 
struggled gallantly for the royal cause in Ireland, now governed 
that kingdom as Lord Lieutenant. But neither the memory of 
the services of these men, nor their great power in the state, 
could -protect them from the sarcasms which modish vice loves 
to dart at obsolete virtue. The praise of politeness and vivacity 
could now scarcely be obtained except by some violation of 
decorum. Talents great and various assisted to spread the 
contagion. Ethical philosophy had recently taken a form well 
suited to please a generation equally devoted to monarchy and 
to vice. Thomas Hobbes had, in language more precise and 
luminous than has ever been employed by any other metaphysi- 
cal writer, maintained that the will of the prince was the stand- 
ard of right and w r rong, and that every subject ought to be 
ready to profess Popery, Mahometanism, or Paganism, at the 
royal command. Thousands who were incompetent to appreciate 
what was really valuable in his speculations, eagerly welcomed 
a theory which, while it exalted the kingly office, relaxed the 
obligations of moralitv, and degraded religion into a mere 
affair of state. Hobbism soon became an almost essential part 
of the character of the fine oentleman. All the lighter kinds of 
literature were deeply tainted by the prevailing licentiousness. 


Poetry stooped to be the pandar of every low desire. Ridicule, 
instead of putting guilt and error to the blush, turned her for- 
midable shafts against innocence and truth. The restored 
Church contended indeed against the prevailing immorality, 
but contended feebly, and with half a heart. It was necessary 
to the decorum of her character that she should admonish her 
erring children : but her admonitions were given in a some- 
what perfunctory manner. Her attention was elsewhere en- 
gaged. Her whole soul was in the work of crushing the Puri- 
tans, and of teaching her disciples to give unto Caesar the things 
which were Caesar's. She had been pillaged and oppressed by 
the party which preached an austere morality. She had been 
restored to opulence and honour by libertines. Little as the 
men of mirth and fashion were disposed to shape their lives 
according to her precepts, they were yet ready to fight knee 
deep in blood for her cathedrals and places, for every line of 
her rubric and every thread of her vestments. If the debauched 
Cavalier haunted brothels and gambling houses, he at least 
avoided conventicles. If he never spoke without uttering 
ribaldry and blasphemy, he made some amends by his eagerness 
to send Baxter and Howe to gaol for preaching and praying. 
Thus the clergy, for a time, made war on schism with so much 
vigour that they had little leisure to make war on vice. The 
ribaldry of Etherege and Wycherley was, in the presence and 
under the special sanction of the head of the Church, publicly 
recited by female lips in female ears, while the author of the 
Pilgrim's Progress languished in a dungeon for the crime of 
proclaiming the gospel to the poor. It is an unquestionable 
and a most instructive fact that the years during which the 
political power of the Anglican hierarchy was in the zenith 
were precisely the years during which national virtue was at 
the lowest point. 

Scarcely any rank or profession escaped the infection of 
the prevailing immorality ; but those persons who made politics 
their business were perhaps the most corrupt part of the corrupt 
society. For they were exposed, not only to the same noxious 
influences which affected the nation generally, but also to a 


taint of a peculiar and of a most malignant kind. Their char- 
acter had been formed amidst frequent and violent revolutions 
and counterrevolutions. In the course of a few years they had 
seen the ecclesiastical and civil polity of their country repeatedly 
changed. They had seen an Episcopal Church persecuting 
Puritans, a Puritan Church persecuting Episcopalians, and an 
Episcopal Church persecuting Puritans again. They had seen 
hereditary monarchy abolished and restored. They had seen 
the Long Parliament thrice supreme in the state, and thrice 
dissolved amidst the curses and laughter of millions. They 
had seen a new dynasty rapidly rising to the height of power 
and ixlorv, and then on a sudden hurled down from the chair of 
state without a struggle. They had seen a new representative 
system devised, tried and abandoned. They had seen a new 
House of Lords created and scattered. They had seen great 
masses of property violently transferred from Cavaliers to 
Roundheads, and from Roundheads back to Cavaliers. During 
these events no man could be a stirring and. thriving politician 
who was not prepared to change with every change of fortune. 
It was only in retirement that any person could long keep the 
character either of a steady Royalist or of a steady Republican. 
One who, in such an age, is determined to attain civil greatness 
must renounce all thoughts of consistency. Instead of affecting 
immutability in the midst of endless mutation, he must be always 
on the watch for the indications of a coming reaction. He must 
seize the exact moment for deserting a falling cause. Having 
gone all lengths with a faction while it was uppermost, he must 
suddenly extricate himself from it when its difficulties begin, 
must assail it, must persecute it, must enter on a new career of 
power and prosperity in company with new associates. His 
situation naturally developes in him to the highest degree a 
peculiar class of abilities and a peculiar class of vices. He 
becomes quick of observation and fertile of resource. He 
catches without effort the tone of any sect or party with which 
he chances to mingle. He discerns the sisrns of the times with a 
sagacity which to the multitude appears miraculous, with a 
sagacity resembling that with which a veteran police officer 


pursues the faintest indications of crime, or with which a 
Mohawk warrior follows a track through the woods. But we 
shall seldom find, in a statesman so trained, integrity, constancy, 
any of the virtues of the noble family of Truth. He has no 
faith in any doctrine, no zeal for any cause. He has seen so 
many old institutions swept away, that he has no reverence for 
prescription. He has seen so many new institutions, from 
which much had been expected, produce mere disappointment, 
that he has no hope of improvement. He sneers alike at those 
who are anxious to preserve and at those who are eager to 
reform. There is nothing in the state which he could not, with- 
out a scruple or a blush, join in defending or in destroying. 
Fidelity to opinions and to friends seems to him mere dulness 
and wronirheadedness. Politics he regards, not as a science of 
which the object is the happiness of mankind, but as an exciting 
game of mixed chance and skill, at which a dexterous and lucky 
player may win an estate, a coronet, perhaps a crown, and at 
which one rash move may lead to the loss of fortune and of 
life. Ambition, which, in good times, and in good minds, is 
half a virtue, now, disjoined from every elevated and philan- 
thropic sentiment, becomes a selfish cupidity scarcely less ignoble 
than avarice. Among those politicians who, from the Restora- 
tion to the accession of the House of Hanover, were at the head 
of the great parties in the state, very few can be named whose 
reputation is not stained by what, in our age, would be called 
gross perfidy and corruption. It is scarcely an exaggeration to 
say that the most unprincipled public men who have taken part 
in affairs within our memory would, if tried by the standard 
which was in fashion during the latter part of the seventeenth 
century, deserve to be regarded as scrupulous and disinterested. 
While these political, religious, and moral changes were 
taking place in England, the Roval authority had been without 
difficulty reestablished in every other part of the British islands. 
In Scotland the restoration of the Stuarts had been hailed with 
delight ; for it was regarded as the restoration of national inde- 
pendence. And true it was that the yoke which Cromwell had 
imposed was, in appearance, taken away, that the Scottish 


Estates again met in their old hall at Edinburgh, and that the 
Senators of the College of Justice again administered the Scot- 
tish law according to the old forms. Yet was the independence 
of the little kingdom necessarily rather nominal than real ; for, 
as long as the King had England on his side, he had nothing to 
apprehend from disaffection in his other dominions. He was 
now in such a situation that he could renew the attempt which 
had proved destructive to his father without any danger of his 
father's fate. Charles the First had tried to force his own 
religion by his regal power on the Scots at a moment when 
both his religion and his regal power were unpopular in Eng- 
land; and he had not only failed, but had raised troubles which 
had ultimately cost him his crown and his head. Times had 
now changed : England was zealous for monarchy and prelacy ; 
and therefore the scheme which had formerly been in the highest 
degree imprudent might be resumed with little risk to the throne. 
The government resolved to set up a prelatical church in Scot- 
land. The design was disapproved by every Scotchman whose 
judgment was entitled to respect. Some Scottish statesmen who 
were zealous for the King's prerogative had been bred Presby- 
terians. Though little troubled with scruples, they retained a 
preference for the religion of their childhood ; and they well 
knew how strong a hold that religion had on the hearts of their 
countrymen. They remonstrated strongly : but, when they 
found that they remonstrated in vain, they had not virtue enough 
to persist in an opposition which would have given offence to 
their master ; and several of them stooped to the wickedness 
and baseness of persecuting what in their consciences they 
believed to be the purest form of Christianity. The Scottish 
Parliament was so constituted that it had scarcely ever offered 
any serious opposition even to Kings much weaker than Charles 
then was. Episcopacy, therefore, was established by law. As 
to the form of worship, a large discretion was left to the clergy. 
In some churches the English Liturgy was used. In others, 
the ministers selected from that Liturgy such prayers and 
thanksgivings as were likely to be least offensive to the people. 
But in general the doxology was sung at the close of public 


worship ; and the Apostles' Creed was recited when baptism 
was administered. By the great body of the Scottish nation the 
new Church was detested both as superstitious and as foreign ; 
as tainted with the corruptions of Rome, and as a mark of the 
predominance of England. There was, however, no general 
insurrection. The country was not what it had been twenty-two 
years before. Disastrous war and alien domination had tamed 
the spirit of the people. The aristocracy, which was held in 
great honour by the middle class and by the populace, had put 
itself at the head of the movement against Charles the First, but 
proved obsequious to Charles the Second. From the English 
Puritans no aid was now to be expected. They were a feeble 
party, proscribed both by law and by public opinion. The bulk 
of the Scottish nation, therefore, sullenly submitted, and, with 
many misgivings of conscience, attended the ministrations of 
the Episcopal clergy, or of Presbyterian divines who had con- 
sented to accept from the government a half toleration, known 
by the name of the Indulgence. But there were, particularly 
in the western lowlands, many fierce and resolute men who held 
that the obligation to observe the Covenant was paramount to 
the obligation to obey the magistrate. These people, in defiance 
of the law, persisted in meeting to worship God after their own 
fashion. The Indulgence they regarded, not as a partial re- 
paration of the wrongs inflicted by the State on the Church, but 
as a new wrong, the more odious because it was disguised under 
the appearance of a benefit. Persecution, they said, could only 
kill the body ; but the black Indulgence was deadly to the soul. 
Driven from the towns, they assembled on heaths and moun- 
tains. Attacked by the civil power, they without scruple repelled 
force by force. At every conventicle they mustered in arms. 
They repeatedly broke out into open rebellion. They w r ere 
easily defeated, and mercilessly punished : but neither defeat 
nor punishment could subdue their spirit. Hunted down like 
wild beasts, tortured till their bones were beaten flat, imprisoned 
by hundreds, hanged by scores, exposed at one time to the 
license of soldiers from England, abandoned at another time to 
the mercy of troops of marauders from the Highlands, they still 


stood at bay in a mood so savage that the boldest and mightiest 
oppressor could not but dread the audacity of their despair. 

Such was, during the reign of Charles the Second, the state 
of Scotland. Ireland was not less distracted. In that island 
existed feuds, compared with which the hottest animosities of 
English politicians were lukewarm. The enmity between the 
Irish Cavaliers and the Irish Roundheads was almost forgotten 
in the fiercer enmity which raged between the English and the 
Celtic races. The interval between the Episcopalian and the 
Presbyterian seemed to vanish, when compared with the interval 
which separated both from the Papist. During the late civil 
troubles the greater part of the Irish soil had been transferred 
from the vanquished nation to the victors. To the favour of 
the Crown few either of the old or of the new occupants had 
any pretensions. The despoilers and the despoiled had, for the 
most part, been rebels alike. The government was soon per- 
plexed and wearied by the conflicting claims and mutual accusa- 
tions of the two incensed factions. Those colonists among 
whom Cromwell had portioned out the conquered territory, and 
whose descendants are still called Cromwellians, asserted that 
the aboriginal inhabitants were deadly enemies of the English 
nation under every dynasty, and of the Protestant religion in 
every form. They described and exaggerated the atrocities 
which had disgraced the insurrection of Ulster : they urged the 
King to follow up with resolution the policy of the Protector ; 
and they were not ashamed to hint that there would never be 
peace in Ireland till the old Irish race should be extirpated. 
The Roman Catholics extenuated their offense as they best 
might, and expatiated in piteous language on the severity of 
their punishment, which, in truth, had not been lenient. They 
implored Charles not to confound the innocent with the guilty, 
and reminded him that many of the guilty had atoned for their 
fault by returning to their allegiance, and by defending his 
rights against the murderers of his father. The court, sick of 
the importunities of two parties, neither of which it had any 
reason to love, atlength relieved itself from trouble by dictating a 
compromise. That system, cruel, but most complete and energetic, 


by which Oliver had proposed to make the island thoroughly 
English, was abandoned. The Cromwellians were induced to 
relinquish a third part of their acquisitions. The land thus 
surrendered was capriciously divided among claimants whom the 
government chose to favour. But great numbers who protested 
that they were innocent of all disloyalty, and some persons who 
boasted that their loyalty had been signally displayed, ob- 
tained neither restitution nor compensation, and filled France 
and Spain with outcries against the injustice and ingratitude of 
the House of Stuart. 

Meantime the government had, even in England, ceased to 
be popular. The Royalists had begun to quarrel with the court 
and with each other ; and the party which had been vanquished, 
trampled down, and, as it seemed, annihilated, but which had 
still retained a strong principle of life, again raised its head, 
and renewed the interminable war. 

Had the administration been faultless, the enthusiasm with 
which the return of the King and the termination of the mili- 
tary tyranny had been hailed could not have been permanent. 
For it is the law of our nature that such fits of excitement shall 
always be followed by remissions. The manner in which the 
court abused its victory made the remission speedy and com- 
plete. Every moderate man was shocked by the insolence, 
cruelty, and perfidy with which the Nonconformists were treated. 
The penal laws had effectually purged the oppressed party 
of those insincere members whose vices had disgraced it, and 
had made it again an honest and pious body of men. The 
Puritan, a conqueror, a ruler, a persecutor, a sequestrator, had 
been detested. The Puritan, betrayed and evil entreated, de- 
serted by all the timeservers who, in his prosperity, had claimed 
brotherhood with him, hunted from his home, forbidden under 
severe penalties to pray or receive the sacrament according to 
his conscience, yet still firm in his resolution to obey God rather 
than man, was, in spite of some unpleasing recollections, an 
object of pity and respect to well constituted minds. These 
feelings became stronger when it was noised abroad that the 
court was not disposed to treat Papists with the same rigour 



which had been shown to Presbyterians. A vague suspicion 
that the King and the Duke were not sincere Protestants sprang 
up and gathered strength. Many persons too who had been 
disgusted by the austerity and hypocrisy of the Saints of the 
Commonwealth began to be still more disgusted by the open 
profligacy of the court and of the Cavaliers, and were disposed 
to doubt whether the sullen preciseness of Praise God Barebone 
might not be preferable to the outrageous profaneness and 
licentiousness of the Buckinghams and Sedleys. EVen immoral 
men, who were not utterly destitute of sense and public spirit, 
complained that the government treated the most serious matters 
as trifles, and made trifles its serious business. A King might 
be pardoned for amusing his leisure with wine, wit, and beauty. 
But it was intolerable that he should sink into a mere lounger 
and voluptuary, that the gravest affairs of state should be neglect- 
ed, and that the public service should be starved and the finances 
deranged in order that harlots and parasites might grow rich. 

A large body of Royalists joined in these complaints, and 
added many sharp reflections on the King's ingratitude. His 
whole revenue, indeed, would not have sufficed to reward them 
all in proportion to their own consciousness of desert. For to 
every distressed gentleman who had fought under Rupert or 
Derby his own services seemed eminently meritorious, and his 
own sufferings eminently severe. Every one had flattered him- 
self that, whatever became of the rest, he should be largely 
recompensed for all that he had lost during the civil troubles, 
and that the restoration of the monarchy would be followed by 
the restoration of his own dilapidated fortunes. None 
of these expectants could restrain his indignation, when he 
found that he was as poor under the King as he had been under 
the Rump or the Protector. The negligence and extravagance 
of the court excited the bitter indignation of these loyal veterans. 
They justly said that one half of what His Majesty squandered 
on concubines and buffoons would gladden the hearts of hun- 
dreds of old Cavaliers who, after cutting down their oaks and 
melting their plate to help his father, now wandered about iu 
threadbare suits, and did not know where to turn for a meal. 


At the same time a sadden fall of rents took place. The 
income of every landed proprietor was diminished by five shil-, 
lines in the pound. The cry of agricultural distress rose from 
every shire in the kingdom ; and for that distress the govern- 
ment was, as usual, held accountable. The gentry, compelled to 
retrench their expenses for a period, saw with indignation the* 
increasing splendour and profusion of Whitehall, and were im- 
movably fixed in the belief that the money which ought to have 
supported their households had, by some inexplicable process, 
gone to the favourites of the King. 

The minds of men were now in such a temper that every public 
act excited discontent. Charles had taken to wife Catharine 
Princess of Portugal. The marriage was generally disliked ; 
and the murmurs became loud when it appeared that the King 
was not likely to have any legitimate posterity. Dunkirk, won 
by Oliver from Spain, was sold to Lewis the Fourteenth, King 
of France. This bargain excited general indignation. English- 
men were already beginning to observe with uneasiness the pro- 
gress of the French power, and to regard the House of Bourbon 
with the same feeling with which their grandfathers had regarded 
the House of Austria. Was it wise, men asked, at such a time, to 
make any addition to the strength of a monarchy already too 
formidable ? Dunkirk was, moreover, prized by the people, 
not merely as a place of arms, and as a key to the Low Coun- 
tries, but also as a trophy of English valour. It was to the 
subjects of Charles what Calais had been to an earlier genera- 
tion, and what the rock of Gibraltar, so manfully defended, 
through disastrous and perilous years, against the fleets and 
armies of a mighty coalition, is to ourselves. The plea of 
economy might have had some weight, if it had been urged by 
an economical government. But it was notorious that the 
charges of Dunkirk fell far short of the sums which were wasted 
at court in v°ce and folly. It seemed insupportable that 
a sovereign, profuse beyond example in all that regarded his 
own pleasures, should be niggardly in all that regarded the safety 
and honour of the state. 

The public discontent was heightened, when it was found 


that, while Dunkirk was abandoned on the plea of economy, the 
fortress of Tangier, which was part of the dower of Queen 
Catharine, was repaired and kept up at au enormous charge. 
That place was associated with no recollections gratifying to the 
national pride: it could in no way promote the national inter- 
ests : it involved us in inglorious, unprofitable, and interminable 
wars with tribes of half savage Mussulmans : and it was situated 
in a climate singularly unfavourable to the health and vigour of 
the English race. 

But the murmurs excited by these errors were faint, when 
compared with the clamours which soon broke forth. The 
government engaged in war with the United Provinces. The 
House of Commons readily voted sums unexampled in our his- 
tory, sums exceeding those which had supported the fleets and 
armies of Cromwell at the time when his power was the terror 
of all the world. But such was the extravagance, dishonest) 7 , 
and incapacity of those who had succeeded to his authority, that 
this liberality proved worse than useless. The sycophants of 
the court, ill qualified to contend against the great men who then 
directed the arms of Holland, against such a statesman as De 
Witt, and such a commander as De Ruyter, made fortunes 
rapidly, while the sailors mutinied from very hunger, while the 
dockyards were unguarded, while the ships* were leaky and with- 
out rigging. It was at length determined to abandon all schemes 
of offensive war; and it soon appeared that even a defensive 
war was a task too hard for that administration. The Dutch 
fleet sailed up the Thames, and burned the ships of war which 
lay at Chatham. It was said that, on the very day of that great 
humiliation, the King feasted with the ladies of his seraglio, and 
amused himself with hunting a moth about the supper room. 
Then, at length, tardy justice was done to the memory of Oliver. 
Everywhere men magnified his valour, genius, and patriotism. 
Everywhere it was remembered how, when he ruled, all foreign 
powers had trembled at the name of England, how the States 
General, now so haughty, had crouched at his feet, and how, 
when it was known that he was no more, Amsterdam was 
lighted up as for a great deliverance, and children ran along the 


canals, shouting for joy that the Devil was dead* Even "Royal- 
ists exclaimed that the state could be saved only by calling the 
old soldiers of the Commonwealth to arms. Soon the capital 
began to feel the miseries of a blockade. Fuel was scarcely to 
be procured. Tilbury Fort, the place where Elizabeth had, 
with manly spirit, hurled foul scorn at Parma and Spain, was 
insulted by the invaders. The roar of foreign guns was heard, 
for the first time, by the citizens of London. In the Council it 
was seriously proposed that, if the enemy advanced, the Tower 
should be abandoned. Great multitudes of people assembled 
in the streets crying out that England was bought and sold. 
The houses and carriages of the ministers were attacked by the 
populace ; and it seemed likely that the government would have 
to deal at once with an invasion and with an insurrection. The 
extreme danger, it is true, soon passed by. A treaty was con- 
cluded, very different from the treaties which Oliver had been 
in the habit of signing ; and the nation was once more at peace, 
but was m a mood scarcely less fierce and sullen than in the 
days of shipmoney. 

The discontent engendered by maladministration was 
heightened by calamities which the best administration could 
not have averted. While the ignominious war with Holland 
was raging, London suffered two great disasters, such as never, 
in so short a space of time, befel one city. A pestilence, sur- 
passing in horror any that during three centuries had visited 
the island, swept away, in six months, more than a hundred 
thousand human beings. And scarcely had the dead cart 
ceased to go its rounds, when a fire, such as had not been 
known in Europe since the conflagration of Rome under Nero, 
laid in ruins the whole city, from the Tower to the Temple, and 
from the river to the purlieus of Smithfield. 

Had there been a general election while the nation was 
smarting under so many disgraces and misfortunes, it is proba- 
ble that the Roundheads would have regained ascendency in 
the state. But the Parliament was still the Cavalier Parlia- 
ment, chosen in the transport of loyalty which had followed the 
Restoration. Nevertheless it soon became evident that no 


English legislature, however loyal, would now consent to be 
merely what the legislature had been under the Tudors. From 
the death of Elizabeth to the eve of the civil war, the Puri- 
tans, who predominated in the representative body, had been 
constantly, by a dexterous use of the power of the purse, en- 
croaching on the province of the executive government. The 
gentlemen who, after the Restoration, filled the Lower House, 
though they abhorred the Puritan name, were well pleased to 
inherit the fruit of the Puritan policy. They were indeed 
most willing to employ the power which they possessed in the 
state for the purpose of making their King mighty and hon- 
oured, both at home and abroad : but with the power itself 
they were resolved not to part. The great English revolution 
of the seventeenth century, that is to say, the transfer of the 
supreme control of the executive administration from the crown 
to the House of Commons, was, through the whole long exist- 
ence of this Parliament, proceeding noiselessly, but rapidly and 
steadily. Charles, kept poor by his follies and vices, wanted 
money. The Commons alone could legally grant him money. 
They could not be prevented from putting their own price on 
their grants. The price which they put on their grants was 
this, that they should be allowed to interfere with every one of 
the King's prerogatives, to wring from him his consent to laws 
which he disliked, to break up cabinets, to dictate the course of 
foreign policy, and even to direct the administration of war. 
To the royal office, and the royal person, they loudly and sin- 
cerely professed the strongest attachment. But to Clarendon 
they owed no allegiance ; and they fell on him as furiously as 
their predecessors had fallen on Strafford. The minister's 
virtues and vices alike contributed to his ruin. He was the 
ostensible head of the administration, and was therefore held 
responsible even for those acts which he had strongly, but 
vainly, opposed in Council. He was regarded by the Puritans, 
and by all who pitied them, as an implacable bigot, a second 
Laud, with much more than Laud's understanding. He had on 
all occasions maintained that the Act of Indemnity ought to be 
strictly observed ; and this part of his conduct, though highly 


honourable to him, made him hateful to all those Royalists 
who wished to repair their ruined fortunes by suing the Round- 
heads for damages and mesne profits. The Presbyterians of 
Scotland attributed to him the downfall of their Church. The 
Papists of Ireland attributed to him the loss of their lands. As 
father of the Duchess of York, he had an obvious motive for 
wishing that there might be a barren Queen ; and he was there- 
fore suspected of having purposely recommended one. The 
sale of Dunkirk was justly imputed to him. For the war with 
Holland, he was, with less justice, held accountable. His hot 
temper, his arrogant deportment, the indelicate eagerness with 
which he grasped at riches, the ostentation with which he 
squandered them, his picture gallery, filled with masterpieces 
of Vandyke which had once been the property of ruined Cav- 
aliers, his palace, which reared its long and stately front right 
opposite to the humbler residence of our Kings, drew on him 
much deserved, and some undeserved, censure. When the 
Dutch fleet was in the Thames, it was against the Chancellor 
that the rage of the populace was chiefly directed. His win- 
dows were broken ; the trees of his garden were cut down ; 
and a gibbet was set up before his door. But nowhere was he 
more detested than in the House of Commons. He was unable 
to perceive that the time was fast approaching when that 
House, if it continued to exist at all, must be supreme in the 
state, when the management of that House would be the most 
important department of politics, and when, without the help 
of men possessing the ear of that House, it would be impossible 
to carry - on the government. He obstinately persisted in con- 
sidering the Parliament as a body in no respect differing from 
the Parliament which had been sitting when, forty years be- 
fore, he first began to study law at the Temple. He did not 
wish to deprive the legislature of those powers which were in- 
herent in it by the old constitution of the realm : but the new 
development of those powers, though a development natural, 
inevitable, and to be prevented only by utterly destroying the 
powers themselves, disgusted and alarmed him. Nothing 
would have induced him to put the great seal to a writ for rais- 


ing shipmoney, or to give his voice in Council for committing a 
member of Parliament to the Tower, on account of words spoken 
in debate : but, when the Commons began to inquire in what 
manner the money voted for the war had been wasted, and to 
examine into the maladministration of the navy, he flamed with 
indignation. Such inquiry, according to him, was out of their 
province. He admitted that the House was a most loyal as- 
sembly, that it had done good service to the crown, and that its 
intentions were excellent. But, both in public and in the 
closet, he, on every occasion, expressed his concern that gen- 
tlemen so sincerely attached to monarchy should unadvisedly 
encroach on the prerogative of the monarch. Widely as they 
differed in spirit from the members of the Long Parliament, 
they yet, he said, imitated that Parliament in meddling with 
matters which lay beyond the sphere of the Estates of the 
realm, and which were subject to the authority of the crown 
alone. The country, he maintained, would never be well gov- 
erned till the knights of shires and the burgesses were content 
to be what their predecessors had been in the days of Eliza- 
beth. All the plans which men more observant than himself 
of the signs of that time proposed, for the purpose of maintain- 
ing a good understanding between the Court and the Com- 
mons, he disdainfully rejected as crude j^rojects, inconsistent 
with the old polity of England. Towards the young orators, 
who were rising to distinction and authority in the Lower 
House, his deportment was ungracious : and he succeeded in 
making them, with scarcely an exception, his deadly enemies. 
Indeed one of his most serious faults was an inordinate con- 
tempt for youth : and this contempt was the more unjustifiable, 
because his own experience in English politics was by no means 
proportioned to his age. For so great a part of his life had been 
passed abroad that he knew less of that world in which he found 
himself on his return than many who might have been his sons. 
For these reasons he was disliked by the Commons. For 
very different reasons he was equally disliked by the Court. 
His morals as w T ell as his politics were those of an earlier gen- 
eration. Even when he was a young law student, living much 


with men of wit and pleasure, his natural gravity and his relig- 
ious principles had to a great extent preserved him from the 
contagion of fashionable debauchery ; and he was by no means 
likely, in advanced years and in declining health, to turn liber- 
tine. On the vices of the young and gay he looked with an 
aversion almost as bitter and contemptuous as that which he felt 
for the theological errors of the sectaries. He missed no op- 
portunity of showing his scorn of the mimics, revellers, and 
courtesans who crowded the palace ; and the admonitions which 
he addressed to the King himself were very sharp, and, what 
Charles disliked still more, very long. Scarcely any voice was 
raised in favour of a minister loaded with the double odium of 
faults which roused the fury of the people, and of virtues which 
annoyed and importuned the sovereign. Southampton was no 
more. Ormond performed the duties of friendship manfully and 
faithfully, but in vain. The Chancellor fell with a great ruin. 
The seal was taken from him : the Commons impeached him : 
his head was not safe : he fled from the country : an act was 
passed which doomed him to perpetual exile ; and those who 
had assailed and undermined him began to struggle for the 
fragments of his power. 

The sacrifice of Clarendon in some degree took off the edjre 
of the public appetite for revenge. Yet was the anger excited 
by the profusion and negligence of the government, and by the 
miscarriages of the late war, by no means extinguished. The 
counsellors of Charles, with the fate of the Chancellor before 
their eyes, were anxious for their own safety. They accordingly 
advised their master to soothe the irritation which prevailed 
both in the Parliament and throughout the country, and for that 
end. to take a step which has no parallel in the history of the 
House of Stuart, and which was worthy of the prudence and 
magnanimity of Oliver. 

We have now reached a point at which the history of the 
great English revolution begins to be complicated with the his- 
tory of foreign politics. The power of Spain had, during many 
years, been declining. She still, it is true, held in Europe the 
Milanese and the two Sicilies, Belgium, and Tranche Cora to. In 


America her dominions still spread, on both sides of the equator, 
far beyond the limits of the torrid zone. But this great body 
had been smitten with palsy, and was not only incapable of 
giving molestation to other states, but could not, without assist- 
ance, repel aggression. France was now, beyond all doubt, the 
greatest power in Europe. Her resources have, since those 
days, absolutely increased, but have not increased so fast as the 
resources of England. It must also be remembered that, a 
hundred and eighty years ago, the empire of Russia, now a 
monarchy of the first class, was as entirely out of the system of 
European politics as Abyssinia or Siam, that the House of Bran- 
denburg was then hardly more powerful than the House of 
Saxony, and that the republic of the United States had not then 
begun to exist. The weight of France, therefore, though still 
very considerable, has relatively diminished. Her territory 
was not in the days of Lewis the Fourteenth quite so extensive 
as at present : but it was large, compact, fertile, well placed 
both for attack and for defence, situated in a happy climate, and 
inhabited by a brave, active, and ingenious people. The state 
implicitly obeyed the direction of a single mind. The great 
fiefs which, three hundred years before, had been, in all but 
name, independent principalities, had been annexed to the crown. 
Only a few old men could remember the last meeting of the 
States General. The resistance which the Huguenots, the 
nobles, and the parliaments had offered to the kingly power, had 
been put down by the two great Cardinals who had ruled the 
nation during forty years. The government was now a des- 
potism, but,at least in its dealings with the upper classes, a mi\d 
and generous despotism, tempered by courteous manners and 
chivalrous sentiments. The means at the disposal of the sov- 
ereign were, for that age, truly formidable. His revenue, raised, it 
is true, by a severe and unequal taxation which pressed heavily on 
the cultivators of the soil, far exceeded that of any other potei t-ite. 
His army, excellently disciplined, and commanded by the great- 
est generals then living, already consisted of more than a hun- 
dred and twenty thousand men. Such an array of regular troops 
Lad not been seen in Europe since the downfall of the Roman 


empire. Of maritime powers France was not the first. But, 
though she had rivals on the sea, she had not yet a superior. 
Such was her strength during the last forty years of the seven- 
teenth century, that no enemy could singly withstand her, and 
that two great coalitions, in which half Christendom was united 
against her, failed of success. 

The personal qualities of the French King added to the 
respect inspired by the power and importance of his kingdom. 
No sovereign has ever represented the majesty of a great 
state with more dignity and grace. He was his own prime 
minister, and performed the duties of a prime minister with an 
ability and industry which could not be reasonably expected 
from one who had in infancy succeeded to a crown, and who 
had been surrounded by flatterers before he could speak. He 
had shown, in an eminent degree, two talents invaluable to a 
prince, the talent of choosing his servants well, and the talent of 
appropriating to himself the chief part of the credit of their acts. 
In his dealings with foreign powers he had some generosity, but 
no justice. To unhappy allies who threw themselves at his feet, 
and had no hope but in his compassion, he extended his protec- 
tion with a romantic disinterestedness, which seemed better 
suited to a knight errant than to a statesman. But he broke 
through the most sacred ties of public faith without scruple or 
shame, whenever they interfered with his interest, or with what 
he called his glory. His perfidy and violence, however, excited 
less enmity than the insolence with which he constantly reminded 
his neighbours of his own greatness and of their littleness. 
He did not at this time profess the austere devotion which, at a 
later period, gave to his court the aspect of a monastery. On 
the contrary, he was as licentious, though by no means as frivo- 
lous and indolent, as his brother of England. But he was a 
sincere Roman Catholic ; and both his conscience and his vanity 
impelled him to use his power for the defence and propagation 
of the true faith, after the example of his renowned predeces- 
sors, Clovis, Charlemagne, and Saint Lewis. 

Our ancestors naturally looked with serious alarm on the 
growing power of France. This -feeling, in itself perfectly 


reasonable, was mingled with other feelings less praiseworthy. 
France was our old enemy. It was against France that the 
most glorious battles recorded in our annals had been fought. 
The conquest of France had been twice effected by the Plan- 
taffenets. The loss of France had been Jons: remembered as a 
great national disaster. The title of King of France was still 
borne by our sovereigns. The lilies of France still appeared, 
mingled with our own lions, on the shield of the House of 
Stuart. In the sixteenth century the dread inspired by Spain 
had suspended the animosity of which France had anciently 
been the object. But the dread inspired by Spain had given 
place to contemptuous compassion ; and France was again re- 
garded as our national foe. The sale of Dunkirk to France 
had been the most generally unpopular act of the restored 
King. Attachment to France had been prominent among the 
crimes imputed by the Commons to Clarendon. Even in trifles 
the public feeling showed itself. When a brawl took place in 
the streets of Westminster between the retinues of the French 
and Spanish embassies, the populace, though forcibly prevented 
from interfering, had given unequivocal proofs that the old 
antipathy to France was not extinct. 

France and Spain were now engaged in a more serious con- 
test. One of the chief objects of the policy of Lewis through- 
out his life was to extend his dominions towards the Rhine. 
For this end he had engaged in war with Spain, and he was 
now in the full career of conquest. The United Provinces saw 
with anxiety the progress of his arms. That renowned federa- 
tion had reached the height of power, prosperity, and glory. 
The Batavian territory, conquered from the waves and defended 
against them bv human art, was in extent little superior to the 
principality of Wales. But all that narrow space was a busy 
and populous hive, in which new wealth was every day created, 
and in which vast masses of old wealth were hoarded. The 
aspect of Holland, the rich cultivation, the innumerable canals, 
the ever whirling mills, the endless fleets of barges, the quick 
succession of great towns, the ports bristling with thousands of 
masts, the large and stately mansions, the trim villas, the 


richly furnished apartments, the picture galleries, the summer 
houses, the tulip beds, produced on English travellers in that 
age an effect similar to the effect which the first sight of 
England now produces on a Norwegian or a Canadian. The 
States General had been compelled to humble themselves before 
Cromwell. But after the Restoration they had taken their 
revenge, had waged war with success against Charles, and had 
concluded peace on honourable terms. Rich, however, as the 
Republic was, and highly considered in Europe, she was no 
match for the power of Lewis. She apprehended, not without 
good cause, that his kingdom might soon be extended to her 
frontiers ; and she might well dread the immediate vicinity of a 
monarch so great, so ambitious, and so unscrupulous. Yet it 
was not easy to devise any expedient which might avert the 
danger. The Dutch alone could not turn the scale against 
France. On the side of the Rhine no help was to be expected. 
Several German princes had been gained by Lewis ; and the 
Emperor himself was embarrassed by the discontents of Hun- 
gary. England was separated from the United Provinces by 
the recollection of cruel injuries recently inflicted and endured; 
and her policy had, since the restoration, been so devoid of wis- 
dom and spirit, that it was scarcely possible to expect from her 
any valuable assistance. 

But the fate of Clarendon and the growing ill humour of 
the Parliament determined the advisers of Charles to adopt on 
a sudden a policy which amazed and delighted the nation. 

The English resident at Brussels, Sir William Temple, one 
of the most expert diplomatists and most pleasing writers of 
that age, had already represented to this court that it was both 
desirable and practicable to enter into engagements with the 
States General for the purpose of checking the progress of 
France. For a time his suggestions had been slighted ; but it 
was now thought expedient to act on them. He was commis- 
sioned to negotiate with the States General. He proceeded to 
the Hague, and soon came to an understanding with John De 
Witt, then the chief minister of Holland. Sweden, small as 
her resources were, had, forty years before, been raised by the 


genius of Gustavus Adolphus to a high rank among European 
powers, and had not yet descended to her natural position. She 
was induced to join on this occasion with England and the 
States. Thus was formed that coalition known as the Triple 
Alliance. Lewis showed signs of vexation and resentment, but 
did not think it politic to draw on himself the hostility of such 
a confederacy in addition to that of Spain. He consented, 
therefore, to relinquish a large part of the territory which his 
armies had occupied. Peace was restored to Europe ; and the 
English government, lately an object of general contempt, was, 
during a few months, regarded by foreign powers with respect 
scarcely less than that which the Protector had inspired. 

At home the Triple Alliance was popular in the highest 
degree. It gratified alike national animosity and national 
pride. It put a limit to the encroachments of a powerful and 
ambitious neighbour. It bound the leading Protestant states 
together in close union. Cavaliers and Roundheads rejoiced in 
common : but the joy of the Roundhead was even greater than 
that of the Cavalier. For England had now allied herself 
strictly with a country republican in government and Presby- 
terian in religion, against a country ruled by an arbitrary 
prince and attached to the Roman Catholic Church. The House 
of Commons loudly applauded the treaty ; and some uncourtly 
grumblers described it as the only good thing that had been 
done since the King came in. 

The King, however, cared little for the approbation of his 
Parliament or of his people. The Triple Alliance he regarded 
merely as a temporary expedient for quieting discontents which 
had seemed likely to become serious. The independence, the 
safety, the dignity of the nation over which he presided were 
nothing to him. He had begun to find constitutional restraints 
galling. Already had been formed in the Parliament a strong 
connection known by the name of the Country Party. That 
party included all the public men who leaned towards Puritan- 
ism and Republicanism, and many who, though attached to the 
Church and to hereditary monarchy, had been driven into op- 
position by dread of Popery, by dread of France, and by disgust 


at the extravagance, dissoluteness, and faithlessness of the court. 
The power of this band of politicians was constantly growing. 
Every year some of those members who had been returned to 
Parliament during the loyal excitement of 1661 had dropped 
off; and the vacant seats had generally been filled by persons 
less tractable. Charles did not think himself a King while an 
assembly of subjects could call for his accounts before paying 
his debts, and could insist on knowing which of his mistresses 
or boon companions had intercepted the money destined for the 
equipping and manning of the fleet. Though not very studi- 
ous of fame, he was galled by the taunts which were sometimes 
uttered in the discussions of the Commons, and on one occa- 
sion attempted to restrain the freedom of speech by disgraceful 
means. Sir John Coventry, a country gentleman, had, in de- 
bate, sneered at the profligacy of the court. In any former 
reign he would probably have been called before the Privy 
Council and committed to the Tower. A different course was 
now taken. A gang of bullies was secretly sent to slit the nose 
of the offender. This ignoble revenge, instead of quelling the 
spirit of opposition, raised such a tempest that the King was 
compelled to submit to the cruel humiliation of passing an act 
which attainted the instruments of his revenge, and which took 
from him the power of pardoning them. 

But, impatient as he was of constitutional restraints, how 
was he to emancipate himself from them ? He could make 
himself despotic only by the help of a great standing army ; and 
such an army was not in existence. His revenues did indeed 
enable him to keep up some regular troops : but those troops, 
though numerous enough to excite great jealousy and appre- 
hension in the House of Commons and in the country, were 
scarcely numerous enough to protect Whitehall and the Tower 
against a rising of the mob of London. Such risings were, in- 
deed, to be dreaded ; for it was calculated that in the capital 

and its suburbs dwelt not less than twenty thousand of Oliver's 

old soldiers. 

Since the King was bent on emancipating himself from the 

control of Parliament, and since, in such an enterprise, he could 


not hope for effectual aid at home, it followed that he must look 
for aid abroad. The power and wealth of the King of France 
mio-ht be equal to the arduous task of establishing absolute 
monarchy in England. Such an ally would undoubtedly ex- 
pect substantial proofs of gratitude for such a service. Charles 
must descend to the rank of a great vassal, and must make 
peace and war according to the directions of the government 
which protected him. His relation to Lewis would closely re- 
semble that in which the Rajah of Nagpore and the King of 
Oude now stand to the British Government. Those princes are 
bound to aid the East India Company in all hostilities, defen- 
sive and offensive, and to have no diplomatic relations but such 
as the East India Company shall sanction. The Company in 
return guarantees them against insurrection. As long as they 
faithfully discharge their obligations to the paramount power, 
they are permitted to dispose of large revenues, to fill their 
palaces with beautiful women, to besot themselves in the com- 
pany of their favourite revellers, and to oppress with impunity 
any subject who may incur their displeasure.* Such a life 
would be insupportable to a man of high spirit and of powerful 
understanding. But to Charles, sensual, indolent, unequal to 
any strong intellectual exertion, and destitute alike of all 
patriotism and of all sense of personal dignity, the prospect had 
nothing imp] easing. 

That the Duke of York should have concurred in the design 
of degrading that crown which it was probable that he would 
himself one day wear may seem more extraordinary. For his 
nature was haughty and imperious ; and, indeed, he continued 
to the very last to show, by occasional starts and struggles, his 
impatience of the French yoke. But he was almost as much 
debased by superstition as his brother by indolence and vice. 
James was now a Roman Catholic. Religious bigotry had 
become the dominant sentiment of his narrow and stubborn 
mind, and had so mingled itself with his love of rule, that the 

* I am happy to say, that, since this passage was -written, the territories both 
of the Rajah of Nagpore and of the King of Oude have been added to the British 
dominions. (1857.) 


two passions could hardly be distinguished from each other. It 
seemed highly improbable that, without foreign aid, he would 
be able to obtain ascendency, or even toleration, for his own 
faith : and he was in a temper to see nothing humiliating in 
any step which might promote the interests of the true Church. 

A negotiation was opened which lasted during several 
months. The chief agent between the English and French 
courts was the beautiful, graceful, and intelligent Henrietta, 
Duchess of Orleans, sister of Charles, sister in law of Lewis, 
and a favourite with both. The King of England offered to 
declare himself a Roman Catholic, to dissolve the Triple Alli- 
ance, and to join with France against Holland, if France would 
engage to lend him such military and pecuniary aid as might 
make him independent of his parliament. Lewis at first affected 
to receive these propositions coolly, and at length agreed to 
them with the air of a man who is conferring a great favour : 
but in truth, the course which he had resolved to take was one 
b} 7- which he might gain and could not lose. 

It seems certain that he never seriously thought of establish- 
ing despotism and Popery in England by force of arms. He 
must have been aware that such an enterprise would be in the 
highest degree arduous and hazardous, that it would task to the 
utmost all the energies of France during many years, and that 
it would be altogether incompatible with more promising 
schemes of aggrandisement, which were dear to his heart. He 
would indeed willingly have acquired the merit and the glory 
of doing a great service on reasonable . terms to the Church of 
which he was a member. But he was little disposed to imitate 
his ancestors who, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, had 
led the flower of French chivalry to die in Syria and Egypt : 
and he well knew that a crusade against Protestantism in Great 
Britain would not be less perilous than the expeditions in which 
the armies of Lewis the Seventh and of Lewis the Ninth had 
perished. He had no motive for wishing the Stuarts to be 
absolute. He did not regard the English constitution with 
feelings at all resembling those which have in later times 
induced princes to make war on the free institutions of neigfy- 



bouring nations. At present a great party zealous for popular 
government has ramifications in every civilised country. Any 
important advantage gained anywhere by that party is almost 
certain to be the signal for general commotion. It is not won- 
derful that governments threatened by a common danger 
should combine for the purpose of mutual insurance. But in 
the seventeenth century no such danger existed. Between the 
public mind of England and the public mind of France, there 
was a great gulph. Our institutions and our factions were as 
little understood at Paris as at Constantinople. It may be 
doubted whether any one of the forty members of the French 
Academy had an English volume in his library, or knew Shake- 
speare, Jonson, or Spenser, even by name. A few Huguenots, 
who had inherited the mutinous spirit of their ancestors, might 
perhaps have a fellow feeling with their brethren in the faith, 
the English Roundheads : but the Huguenots had ceased to be 
formidable. The French, as a people, attached to the Church 
of Rome, and proud of the greatness of their King and of their 
own loyalty, looked" on our struggles against Popery and 
arbitrary power, not only without admiration or sympathy, 
but with strong disapprobation and disgust. It would there- 
fore be a great error to ascribe the conduct of Lewis to appre- 
hensions at all resembling those which, in our age, induced 
the Holy Alliance to interfere in the internal troubles of 
Naples and Spain. 

Nevertheless, the propositions made by the court of White- 
hall were most welcome to him. He already meditated gigantic 
designs, which were destined to keep Europe in constant fer- 
mentation during more than forty years. He wished to humble 
the United Provinces, and to annex Belgium, Franche Comte, 
and Loraine to his dominions. Nor was this all. The King of 
Spain was a sickly child. It was likely that he would die 
without issue. His eldest sister was Queen of France. A day 
would almost certainly come, and might come very soon, when 
the House of Bourbon might lay claim to that vast empire on 
which the sun never set. The union of two great monarchies 
under one head would doubtless be opposed by a continental 


coalition. But for any continental coalition France single- 
handed was a match. England could turn the scale. On the 
course which, in such a crisis, England might pursue, the 
destinies of the world would depend ; and it was notorious that 
the English Parliament and nation were strongly attached to 
the policy which had dictated the Triple Alliance. Nothing, 
therefore, could be more gratifying to Lewis than to learn that 
the princes of the House of Stuart needed his help, and were 
willing to purchase that help by unbounded subserviency. He 
determined to profit by the opportunity, and laid down for 
himself a plan to which, without deviation, he adhered, till the 
Revolution of 1688 disconcerted all his politics. He professed 
himself desirous to promote the designs of the English court. 
He promised large aid. He from time to time doled out such 
aid as might serve to keep hope alive, and as he could without 
risk or inconvenience spare. In this way, at an expense very 
much less than that which he incurred in building and decora- 
ting Versailles or Marli, he succeeded in making England, 
during nearly twenty years, almost as insignificant a member 
of the political system of Europe as the republic of San 

His object was not to destroy our constitution, but to keep 
the various elements of which it was composed in a perpetual 
state of conflict, and to set irreconcilable enmity between those 
who had the power of the purse and those who had the power 
of the sword. With this view he bribed and stimulated both 
parties in turn, pensioned at once the ministers of the crown 
and the chiefs of the opposition, encouraged the court to with- 
stand the seditious encroachments of the Parliament, and con- 
veyed to the Parliament intimations of the arbitrary designs of 
the court. 

One of the devices to which he resorted for the purpose of 
obtaining an ascendency in the English counsels deserves 
especial notice. Charles, though incapable of love in the 
highest sense of the word, was the slave of any woman whose 
person excited his desires, and whose airs and prattle amused 
his leisure. Indeed a husband would be justly derided who 


should bear from a wife of exalted rank and spotless virtue 
half the insolence which the King of England bore from con- 
cubines who, while they owed everything to his bounty, caressed 
his courtiers almost before his face. He had patiently endured 
the termagant passions of Barbara Palmer and the pert vivacity 
of Eleanor Gwynn. Lewis thought that the most useful envoy 
who could be sent to London, would be a handsome, licentious, 
and crafty Frenchwoman. Such a woman was Louisa, a lady 
of the House of Querouaille, whom our rude ancestors called 
Madam Carwell. She was soon triumphant over all her rivals, 
was created Duchess of Portsmouth, was loaded with wealth, 
and obtained a dominion which ended onlv with the life of 

The most important conditions of the alliance between the 
crowns were digested into a secret treaty which was signed at 
Dover in May, 1670, just ten years after the day on which 
Charles had landed at that very port amidst the acclamations 
and joyful tears of a too confiding people. 

By this treaty Charles bound himself to make public pro- 
fession of the Roman Catholic religion, to join his arms to 
those of Lewis for the purpose of destroying the power of the 
United Provinces, and to employ the whole strength of Eng- 
land, by land and sea, in support of the rights of the House of 
Bourbon to the vast monarchy of Spain. Lewis, on the other 
hand, engaged to pay a large subsidy, and promised that, if any 
insurrection should break out in England, he would send an 
army at his own charge to support his ally. 

This compact was made with gloomy auspices. Six weeks 
after it had been signed and sealed, the charming princess, 
whose influence over her brother and brother in law had been 
so pernicious to her country, was no more. Her death gave 
rise to horrible suspicions which, for a moment, seemed likely 
to interrupt the newly formed friendship between the Houses 
of Stuart and Bourbon : but in a short time fresh assurances of 
undiminished good will were exchanged between the confederates. 

The Duke of York, too* dull to apprehend danger, or too 
fanatical to care about it, was impatient to see the article touch- 


insr the Roman Catholic religion carried into immediate execu- 
tion : but Lewis had the wisdom to perceive that, if this course 
were taken, there would be such an explosion in England as 
would probably frustrate those parts of the plan which he had 
most at heart. It was therefore determined that Charles should 
still call himself a Protestant, and should still, at high festivals, 
receive the sacrament according to the ritual of the Church of 
England. His more scrupulous brother ceased to appear in the 
royal chapel. 

About this time died the Duchess of York, daughter of the 
banished Earl of Clarendon. She had been, during some years, 
a concealed Roman Catholic. She left two daughters, Mary 
and Anne, afterwards successively Queens of Great Britain. 
They were bred Protestants by the positive command of the 
King, who knew that it would be vain for him to profess him- 
self a member of the Church of England, if children who seemed 
likely to inherit his throne were, by his permission, brought up 
as members of the Church of Rome. 

The principal servants of the crown at this time were men 
whose names have justly acquired an unenviable notoriety. We 
must take heed, however, that we do not load their memory 
with infamy which of right belongs to their master. For the 
treaty of Dover the King himself is chiefly answerable. He 
held conferences on it with the French agents : he wrote many 
letters concerning it with his own hand : he was the person 
who first suggested the most disgraceful articles which it con- 
tained ; and he carefully concealed some of those articles from 
the majority of his Cabinet. 

Few things in our history are more curious than the origin 
and growth of the power now possessed by the Cabinet. From 
an early period the Kings of England had been assisted by a 
Privy Council to winch the law assigned many important func- 
tions and duties. During several centuries this body deliberated 
on the gravest and most delicate affairs. But by degrees its char- 
acter changed. It became too large for despatch and secrecy. 
The rank of Privy Councillor was often bestowed as an honorary 
distinction on persons to whom nothing was confided, and whose 


opinion was never asked. The sovereign, on the most important 
occasions, resorted for advice to a small knot of leading minis- 
ters. The advantages and disadvantages of this course were 
early pointed out by Bacon, with his usual judgment and 
sagacity : but it was not till after the Restoration that the 
interior council began to attract general notice. During mam- 
years old fashioned politicians continued to regard the Cabinet 
as an unconstitutional and dangerous board. Nevertheless, it 
constantly became more and more important. It at length 
drew to itself the chief executive power, and has now been 
regarded, during several generations, as an essential part of our 
polity. Yet, strange to say, it still continues to be altogether 
unknown to the law: the names of the noblemen and gentlemen 
who compose it are never officially announced to the public : no 
record is kept of its meetings and resolutions ; nor has its exist- 
ence ever been recognised by any Act of Parliament. 

During some years the word Cabal was popularly used as 
synonymous with Cabinet. But it happened by a whimsical 
coincidence that, in 1671, the Cabinet consisted of five persons 
the initial letters of whose names made up the word Cabal ; 
Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. 
These ministers were therefore emphatically called the Cabal ; 
and they soon made that appellation so infamous that it has 
never since their time been used except as a term of reproach. 

Sir Thomas Clifford was a Commissioner of the Treasury, 
and had greatly distinguished himself in the House of Commons. 
Of the members of the Cabal he was the most respectable. For, 
with a fiery and imperious temper, he had a strong though a 
lamentably perverted sense of duty and honour. 

Henry Bennet, Lord Arlington, then Secretary of State, ha 1. 
since he came to manhood, resided principally on the Continent, 
and had learned that cosmopolitan indifference to constitutions 
and religions which is often observable in persons whose life lias 
been passed in vagrant diplomacy. If there was any form of 
government which he liked it was that of France. If there was 
any Church for which he felt a preference, it was that of Rome. 
He had some talent for conversation, and some talent aLo for 


transacting the ordinary business of office. He had learned, dur- 
ing a life passed in travelling and negotiating, the art of accom- 
modating his language and deportment to the society in which 
he found himself. His vivacity in the closet amused the King : 
his gravity in debates and conferences imposed on the public ; 
and he had succeeded in attaching to himself, partly by services 
and partly by hopes, a considerable number of personal re- 

Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale were men in whom the 
immorality which was epidemic among the politicians of that 
age appeared in its most malignant type, but variously modi- 
fied by great diversities of temper and understanding. Buck- 
ingham was a sated man of pleasure, who had turned to ambition 
as to a pastime. As he had tried to amuse himself with architec- 
ture and music, with writing farces and with seeking for the 
philosopher's stone, so he now tried to amuse himself with a se- 
cret negotiation and a Dutch war. He had already, rather from 
fickleness and love of novelty than from any deep design, been 
faithless to every party. At one time he had ranked among the 
Cavaliers. At another time warrants had been out against him 
for maintaining a treasonable correspondence with the remains 
of the Republican party in the city. He was now again a cour- 
tier, and was eager to win the favour of the King by services 
from which the most illustrious of those who had fought and suf- 
fered for the royal house would have recoiled with horror. 

Ashley, with a far stronger head, and with a far fiercer and 
more earnest ambition, had been equally versatile. But Ash- 
ley's versatility was the effect, not of levity, but of deliberate 
selfishness. He had served and betrayed a succession of gov- 
ernment?. But he had timed all his treacheries so well that, 
through all revolutions, his fortunes had constantly been rising. 
The multitude, struck with admiration by a prosperity which, 
while everything else was constantly changing, remained un- 
changeable, attributed to him a prescience almost miraculous, 
and likened him to the Hebrew statesman of whom it is written 
that his counsel was as if a man had inquired of the oracle of 


Lauderdale, loud and coarse both in mirth and anger, was 
perhaps, under the outward show of boisterous frankness, the 
most dishonest man in the whole Cabal. He had made himself 
conspicuous among the Scotch insurgents of 1638 by his zeal for 
the Covenant. He was accused of having been deeply con- 
cerned in the sale of Charles the First to the English Parliament, 
and was therefore, in the estimation of good Cavaliers, a traitor, 
if possible, of a worse description than those who had sate in the 
High Court of Justice. He often talked with a noisy jocularity 
of the davs when he was a canter and a rebel. He was now the 
chief instrument employed by the court in the work of for- 
cing episcopacy on his reluctant countrymen ; nor did he in that 
cause shrink 'from the unsparing use of the sword, the halter, 
and the boot. Yet those who knew -him knew that thirty 
years had made no change in his real sentiments, that he still 
hated the memory of Charles the First, and that he still pre- 
ferred the Presbyterian form of church government to every 

Unscrupulous as Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale were, 
it was not thought safe to intrust to them the King's intention 
of declaring himself a Roman Catholic. A false treaty, in which 
the article concerning religion was omitted, was shown to them. 
The names and seals of Clifford and Arlington are affixed to the 
genuine treaty. Both these statesmen had a partiality for the 
old Church, a partiality which the brave and vehement Clifford 
in no long time manfully avowed, but which the colder and 
meaner Arlington concealed, till the near approach of death 
scared him into sincerity. The three other cabinet ministers, 
however, were not men to be kept easily in the dark, and prob- 
ably suspected more than was distinctly avowed to them. They 
were certainly privy to all the political engagements contracted 
with France, and were not ashamed to receive large gratifica- 
tions from Lewis. 

The first object of Charles was to obtain from the Commons 
supplies which might be employed in executing the secret treaty. 
The Cabal, holding power at a time when our government was 
in a state of transition, united in itself two different kinds of 


vices belonging to two different ages and to two different systems. 
As those five evil counsellors were among the last English 
statesmen who seriously thought of destroying the Parliament, 
so they were the first English statesmen who attempted exten- 
sively to corrupt it. We find in their policy at once the latest 
trace of the Thorough of Strafford, and the earliest trace of that 
methodical bribery which was afterwards practiced by Walpole. 
They soon perceived, however, that, though the House of Com-, 
mons was chiefly composed of Cavaliers, and though places and 
French gold had been lavished on the members, there was no 
chance that even the least odious parts of the scheme arranged 
at Dover would be supported by a majority. It was necessary 
to have recourse to fraud. The King professed great zeal for 
the principles of the Triple Alliance, and pretended that, in or- 
der to hold the ambition of France in check, it would be neces- 
sary to augment the fleet. The Commons fell into the snare, 
and voted a grant of eight hundred thousand pounds. The Par- 
liament was instantly prorogued ; and the court, thus emanci- 
pated from control, proceeded to the execution of the great de- 

The financial difficulties however were serious. A war with 
Holland could be carried on only at enormous cost. The ordi- 
nary revenue was not more than sufficient to support the gov- 
ernment in time of peace. The eight hundred thousand pounds 
out of which the Commons had just been tricked would not 
defray the naval and military charge of a single year of hostil- 
ities. After the terrible lesson given by the Long Parliament, 
even the Cabal did not venture to recommend benevolences or 
shipmoney. In this perplexity Ashley and Clifford proposed 
a flagitious breach of public faith. The goldsmiths of London 
were then not only dealers in the precious metals, but also bank- 
ers, and were in the habit of advancing large sums of monev to 
the government. In return for these advances they received 
assignments on the revenue, and were repaid with interest as 
the taxes came in. About thirteen hundred thousand pounds 
had been in this way intrusted to the honour of the state. On 
a sudden it was announced that it was not convenient to pay 


the principal, and that the lenders must content themselves with. 
interest. They were consequently unable to meet their own 
engagements. The Exchange was in an uproar : several great 
mercantile houses broke ; and dismay and distress spread 
through all society. Meanwhile rapid strides were made towards 
despotism. Proclamations, dispensing with Acts of Parliament, 
or enjoining what only Parliament could lawfully enjoin, ap- 
peared in rapid succession. Of these edicts the most important 
was the Declaration of Indulgence. By this instrument the 
penal laws against Roman Catholics were set aside ; and, that 
the real object of the measure might not be perceived, the laws 
against Protestant Nonconformists were also suspended. 

A few days after the appearance of the Declaration of In- 
dulgence, war was proclaimed against the United Provinces. 
By sea the Dutch maintained the struggle with honour ; but 
on land they were at first borne down by irresistible force. A 
great French army passed the Rhine. Fortress after fortress 
opened its gates. Three of the seven provinces of the federa- 
tion were occupied by the invaders. The fires of the hostile 
camp were seen from the top of the Stadthouse of Amsterdam. 
The Republic, thus fiercely assailed from without, was torn at 
the same time by internal dissensions. The government was 
in the hands of a close oligarchy of powerful burghers. There 
were numerous selfelected Town Councils, each of which exer- 
cised, within its own sphere, many of the rights of sovereignty. 
These councils sent delegates to the Provincial States, and the 
Provincial States again sent delegates to the States General. 
A hereditary first magistrate was no essential part of this polity. 
Nevertheless one family, singularly fertile of great men, had 
gradually obtained a large and somewhat indefinite authority. 
William, first of the name, Prince of Orange Nassau, and Stadt- 
holder of Holland, had headed the memorable insurrection 
against Spain. His son Maurice had been Captain General 
and first minister of the States, had, by eminent abilities and 
public services, and by some treacherous and cruel actions, 
raised himself to almost kingly power, and had bequeathed a 
great part of that power to his family. The influence of the 


Stadtholders was an object of extreme jealousy to the munici- 
pal oligarchy. But the army, and that great body of citizens 
which was excluded from all share in the government, looked 
on the Burgomasters and Deputies with a dislike resembling 
the dislike with which the legions and the common people of 
Home regarded the Seriate, and were as zealous for the House 
of Orange as the legions and the common people of Rome for 
the House of Caesar. The Stadtholder commanded the forces 
of the commonwealth, disposed of all military commands, had 
a large share of the civil patronage, and was surrounded by 
pomp almost regal. 

Prince William the Second had been strongly opposed by 
the oligarchical party. His life had terminated in the year 
1650, amidst great civil troubles. He died childless: the ad- 
herents of his house were left for a short time without a head ; 
and the powers which he had exercised were divided among 
the Town Councils, the Provincial States, and the States Gen- 

But, a few days after William's death, his widow, Mary, 
daughter of Charles the first, King of Great Britain, gave birth 
to a son, destined to raise the glory and authority of the House 
of Nassau to the highest point, to save the United Provinces 
from slavery, to curb the power of France, and to establish the 
English constitution on a lasting foundation. 

This Prince, named William Henry, was from his birth an 
object of serious apprehension to the party now supreme in 
Holland, and of loyal attachment to the old friends of his line. 
He enjoyed high consideration as the possessor of a splendid 
fortune, as the chief of one of the most illustrious houses in 
Europe, as a Magnate of the German empire, as a prince of 
the blood royal of England, and, above all, as the descendant 
of the founders of Batavian liberty. But the high office which 
had once been considered as hereditary in his family remained 
in abeyance ; and the intention of the aristocratical party was 
that there should never be another Stadtholder. The want of 
a first magistrate was, to a great extent, supplied by the Grand 
Pensionary of the Province of Holland, John De Witt, whose 


abilities, firmness, and integrity had raised him to unrivalled 
authority in the councils of the municipal oligarchy. 

The French invasion produced a complete change. The 
suffering and terrified people raged fiercely against the govern- 
ment. In their madness they attacked the bravest captains 
and the ablest statesmen of the distressed commonwealth. De 
iiuyter was insulted by the rabble. De Witt was torn in 
pieces before the gate of the palace of the States General at 
the Hague. The Prince of Orange, who had no share in the 
guilt of the murder, but who, on this occasion, as on another 
lamentable occasion twenty years later, extended to crimes per- 
petrated in his cause an indulgence which has left a stain on 
his glory, became chief of the government without a rival. 
Young as he was, his ardent and unconquerable spirit, though 
disguised by a cold and sullen manner, soon roused the courage 
of his dismayed countrymen. It was in vain that both his 
uncle and the French King attempted by splendid offers to 
seduce him from the cause of the Republic. To the States 
General he spoke a high and inspiriting language. He even 
ventured to suggest a scheme which has an aspect of antique 
heroism, and which, if it had been accomplished, would have 
been the noblest subject for epic song that is to be found in the 
whole compass of modern history. He told the deputies that, 
even if their natal soil and the marvels with which human in- 
dustry had covered it were buried under the ocean, ail was not 
lost. The Hollanders might survive Holland. Liberty and 
pure religion, driven by tyrants and bigots from Europe, might 
take refuge in the farthest isles of Asia. The shipping in the 
ports of the republic would suffice to carry two hundred thou- 
sand emigrants to the Indian Archipelago. There the Dutch 
commonwealth might commence a new and more glorious ex- 
istence, and might rear, under the Southern Cross, amidst the 
sugar canes and nutmeg trees, the Exchange of a wealthier 
Amsterdam, and the schools of a more learned Leyden. The 
national spirit swelled and rose high. The terms offered by 
Ihe allies were firmly rejected. The dykes were opened. The 
whole country was turned into one great lake, from which the 


cities, with their ramparts and steeples, rose like islands. The 
invaders were forced to save themselves from destruction by a 
precipitate retreat. Lewis, who, though he sometimes thought 
it necessary to appear at the head of his troops, greatly pre- 
ferred a palace to a camp, had already returned to enjoy the 
adulation of poets and the smiles of ladies in the newly planted 
alleys of Versailles. 

And now the tide turned fast. The event of the maritime 
war had been doubtful ; by land the United Provinces had ob- 
tained a respite ; and a respite, though short, was of infinite 
importance. Alarmed by the vast designs of Lewis, both the 
branches of the great House of Austria sprang to arms. Spain 
and Holland, divided by the memory of ancient wrongs and 
humiliations, were reconciled by the nearness of the common 
danger. From every part of Germany troops poured towards 
the Rhine. The English government had already expended 
all the funds which had been obtained by pillaging the public 
creditor. No loan could be expected from the City. An at- 
tempt to raise taxes by the royal authority would have at once 
produced a rebellion ; and Lewis, who had now to maintain a 
contest against half Europe, was in no condition to furnish the 
means of coercing the people of England. It was necessary to 
convoke the Parliament. 

In the spring of 1673, therefore, the Houses reassembled after 
a recess of near two years. Clifford, now a peer and Lord 
Treasurer, and Ashley, now Earl of Shaftesbury and Lord 
Chancellor, were the persons on whom the King principally re- 
lied as Parliamentary managers. The Country Party instantly 
began to attack the policy of the Cabal. The attack was made, 
not in the way of storm, but by slow and scientific approaches. 
The Commons at first held out hopes that they would give sup- 
port to the king's foreign policy, but insisted that he should pur- 
chase that support by abandoning his whole system of domestic 
policy. Their chief object was to obtain the revocation of the 
Declaration of Indulgence. Of all the many unpopular steps 
taken by the government the most unpopular was the publishing 
of this Declaration. The most opposite sentiments had been 


shocked by an act so liberal, clone in a manner so despotic. All 
the enemies of religious freedom, and all the friends of civil 
freedom, found themselves on the same side ; and these two 
classes made up nineteen twentieths of the nation. The zeal- 
ous churchman exclaimed against the favour which had been 
shown both to the Papist and to the Puritan. The Puritan, 
though he might rejoice in the suspension of the persecution by 
which he had been harassed, felt little gratitude for a toleration 
which he was to share with Antichrist. And all Englishmen 
who valued liberty and law, saw with uneasiness the deep in- 
road which the prerogative had made into the province of the 

It must in candour be admitted that the constitutional ques- 
tion was then not quite free from obscurity. Our ancient Kings 
had undoubtedly claimed and exercised the right of suspending 
the operation of penal laws. The tribunals had recognised that 
right. Parliaments had suffered it to pass unchallenged. That 
some such riffht was inherent in the crown, few even of the 
Country Party ventured, in the face of precedent and authority, 
to deny. Yet it was clear that, if this prerogative were without 
limit, the English government could scarcely be distinguished 
from a pure despotism. That there was a limit was fully ad- 
mitted by the King and his ministers. Whether the Declaration 
of Indulgence lay within or without the limit was the question ; 
and neither party could succeed in tracing any line which would 
bear examination. Some opponents of the government com- 
plained that the Declaration suspended not less than forty stat- 
utes. But why not forty as well as one ? There was an orator 
who gave it as his opinion that the King might constitutionally 
dispense with bad laws, but not with good laws. The absurdity 
of such a distinction it is needless to expose. The doctrine 
which seems to have been generally received in the House of 
Commons was, that the dispensing power was confined to secu- 
lar matters, and did not extend to laws enacted for the security 
of the established religion. Yet, as the King was supreme head 
of the Church, it should seem that, if he possessed the dispens- 
ing power at all, he might well possess that power where the 


Church was concerned. When the courtiers on the other side 
attempted to point out the bounds of this prerogative, they were 
not more successful than the opposition had been. 

The truth is that the dispensing power was a great anomaly 
in politics. It was utterly inconsistent in theory with the prin- 
ciples of mixed government : but it had grown up in times when 
people troubled themselves little about theories.* It had not 
been very grossly abused in practice. It had therefore been 
tolerated, and had gradually acquired a kind of prescription. 
At length it was employed, after a long interval, in an enlight- 
ened age, and at an important conjuncture, to an extent never 
before known, and for a purpose generally abhorred. It was 
instantly subjected to a severe scrutiny. Men did not, indeed, 
at first, venture to pronounce it altogether unconstitutional. But 
they began to perceive that it was at direct variance with the 
spirit of the constitution, and would, if left unchecked, turn the 
English government from a limited into an absolute monarchy. 

Under the influence of such apprehensions, the Commons 
denied the King's right to dispense, not indeed with all penal 
statutes, but with penal statutes in matters ecclesiastical, and 
gave him plainly to understand that, unless he renounced that 
right, they would grant no supply for the Dutch war. He, for 
a moment, showed some inclination to put everything to hazard ; 
but he was strongly advised by Lewis to submit to necessity, 
and to wait for better times, when the French armies, now em- 
ployed in an arduous struggle on the Continent, might be avail- 
able for the purpose of suppressing discontent in England. In 
the Cabal itself the signs of disunion and treachery began to 
appear. Shaftesbury, with his proverbial sagacity, saw that a 
violent reaction was at hand, and that all things were tending 
towards a crisis resembling that of 1640. He was determined 
that such a crisis should not find him in the situation of Straf- 
ford. He therefore turned suddenly round, and acknowledged, 
in the House of Lords, that the Declaration was illegal. The 

* The most sensible thing said in the House of Commons, on this subject, came 
from Sir William Coventry : — " Our ancestors never did draw a line to circum- 
scribe prerogative and liberty." 


King, thus deserted by his ally and by his Chancellor, yielded, 
cancelled the Declaration, and solemnly promised that it should 
never be drawn into precedent. 

Even this concession was insufficient. The Commons, not 
content with having forced their sovereign to annul the Indul- 
gence, next extorted his unwilling assent to a celebrated law, 
which continued in force down to the reign of George the 
Fourth. This law, known as the Test Act, provided that all 
persons holding any office, civil or military, should take the oath 
of supremacy, should subscribe a declaration against transub- 
stantiation, and should publicly receive the sacrament according 
to the rites of the Church of England. The preamble expressed 
hostility only to the Papists : but the enacting clauses were 
scarcely more unfavourable to the Papists than to the rigid 
Puritans. The Puritans, however, terrified at the evident 
leaning of the court towards Popery, and encouraged by some 
churchmen to hope that, as soon as the Roman Catholics should 
have been effectually disarmed, relief would be extended to 
Protestant Nonconformists, made little opposition ; nor could 
the King, who was in extreme want of money, venture to with- 
hold his sanction. The act was passed ; and the Duke of York 
was consequently under the necessity of resigning the great 
place of Lord High Admiral. 

Hitherto the Commons had not declared against the Dutch 
war. But, when the King had, in return for money cautiously 
doled out, relinquished his whole plan of domestic policy, they 
fell impetuously on his foreign policy. They requested him to 
dismiss Buckingham and Lauderdale from his councils forever, 
and appointed a committee to consider the propriety of impeach- 
ing Arlington. In a short time the Cabal was no more. Clif- 
ford, who, alone of the five, had any claim to be regarded as an 
honest man, refused to take the new test, laid down his white 
staif, and retired to his country seat. Arlington quitted the 
post of Secretary of State for a quiet and dignified employment 
in the Royal household. Shaftesbury and Buckingham made 
their peace with the opposition, and appeared at the head of 
the stormy democracy of the city. Lauderdale, however, still 


continued to be minister for Scotch affairs, with which the 
English Parliament could not interfere. 

And now the Commons urged the King to make peace with 
Holland, and expressly declared that no more supplies should 
be granted for the war, unless it should appear that the enemy 
obstinately refused to consent to reasonable terms. Charles 
found it necessary to postpone to a more convenient season all 
thought of executing the treaty of Dover, and to cajole the 
nation by pretending to return to the policy of the Triple 
Alliance. Temple, who, during the ascendency of the Cabal, 
had lived in seclusion among his books and flower beds, was 
called forth from his hermitage. By his instrumentality a 
separate peace was concluded with the United Provinces ; and 
he again became ambassador at the Hague, where his presence 
was regarded as a sure pledge for the sincerity of his court. 

The chief direction of affairs was now intrusted to Sir 
Thomas Osborne, a Yorkshire baronet, who had, in the House 
of Commons, shown eminent talents for business and debate. 
Osborne became Lord Treasurer, and was soon created Earl of 
Danby. He was not a man whose character, if tried by any 
higli standard of morality, would appear to merit approbation. 
He was greedy of wealth and honours, corrupt himself, and a 
corrupter of others. The Cabal had bequeathed to him the art 
of bribing Parliaments, an art still rude, and giving little promise 
of the rare perfection to which it was brought in the following 
century. He improved greatly on the plan of the first inventors. 
They had merely purchased orators : but every man who had a 
vote, might sell himself to Danby. Yet the new minister must 
not be confounded with the negotiators of Dover. He was not 
without the feelings of an Englishman and a Protestant ; nor 
did he, in his solicitude for his own interests, ever wholly forget 
the interests of his country and of his religion. He was desirous, 
indeed, to exalt the prerogative : but the means by which he 
proposed to exalt it were widely different from those which had 
been contemplated by Arlington and Clifford. The thought of 
establishing arbitrary power, by calling in the aid of foreign arms, 
and by reducing the kingdom to the rank of a dependent princi- 



pality, never entered into his mind. His plan was to rally round 
the monarchy those classes which had been the firm allies of the 
monarchy during the troubles of the preceding generation, and 
which had been disgusted bv the recent crimes and errors of the 
court. With the help of the old Cavalier interest, of the nobles, 
of the country gentlemen, of the clergy, and of the Universities, 
it might, he conceived, be possible to make Charles, not indeed 
an absolute sovereign, but a sovereign scarcely less powerful 
than Elizabeth had been. 

Prompted by these feelings, Danby formed the design of 
securing to the Cavalier party the exclusive possession of all 
political power both executive and legislative. In the year 
1675, accordingly, a bill was oifered to the Lords which provided 
that no person should hold any ofjfce, or should sit in either 
House of Parliament, without first declaring on oath that he 
considered resistance to the kingly power as in all cases criminal, 
and that he would never endeavour to alter the government 
either in Church or State. During several weeks the debates, 
divisions, and protests caused by this proposition kept the coun- 
try in a state of excitement. The opposition in the House of 
Lords, headed by two members of the Cabal who were desirous 
to make their peace with the nation, Buckingham and Shaftes- 
bury, was beyond all precedent vehement and pertinacious, and 
at length proved successful. The bill was not indeed rejected, 
but was retarded, mutilated, and at length suffered to drop. 

So arbitrary and so exclusive was Danby's scheme of domes- 
tic policy. His opinions touching foreign policy did him more 
honour. They were in truth directly opposed to those of the 
Cabal and differed little from those of the Country Party. He 
bitterly lamented the degraded situation to which England was 
reduced, and declared, with more energy than politeness, that 
his dearest wish was to cudgel the French into a proper respect 
for her. So little did he disguise his feelings that, at a great 
banquet where the most illustrious dignitaries of the State 
and of the Church were assembled, he not very decorously filled 
his Mass to the confusion of all who were against a war with 
France. He would indeed most gladly have seen his country 


united with the powers which were then combined against 
Lewis, and was for that end bent on placing Temple, the author 
of the Triple Alliance, at the head of the department which 
directed foreign affairs. But the power of the prime minister 
was limited. In his most confidential letters he complained 
that the infatuation of his master prevented England from taking 
her proper place among European nations. Charles was insa- 
tiably greedy of French gold : he had by no means relinquished 
the hope that he might, at some future day, be able to establish 
absolute monarchy by the help of the French arms ; and for 
both reasons he wished to maintain a good understanding with 
the court of Versailles. 

Thus the sovereign leaned towards one system of foreign pol- 
itics, and the minister towards a system diametrically opposite. 
Neither the sovereign nor the minister, indeed, was of a temper 
to pursue any object with undeviating constancy. Each occa- 
sionally yielded to the importunity of the other ; and their 
jarring inclinations and mutual concessions gave to the whole 
administration a strangely capricious character. Charles some- 
times, from levity and indolence, suffered Danby to take steps 
which Lewis resented as mortal injuries. Danby, on the other 
hand, rather than relinquish his great place, sometimes stooped 
to compliances which caused him bitter pain and shame. The 
King was brought to consent to a marriage between the Lady 
Mary, eldest daughter and presumptive heiress of the Duke of 
York, and William of Orange, the deadly enemy of France and 
the hereditary champion of the Reformation. Nay, the brave 
Earl of Ossory, son of Ormond, was sent to assist the Dutch 
with some British troops, who, on the most bloody day of the 
whole war, signally vindicated the national reputation for stub- 
born courage. The Treasurer, on the other hand, was induced 
not only to connive at some scandalous pecuniary transactions 
which took place between his master and the court of Versailles, 
but to become, unwillingly indeed and ungraciously, an agent in 
those transactions. 

Meanwhile the Country Party was driven by two strong feel- 
ings in two opposite directions. The popular leaders were 


afraid of the greatness of Lewis, who was not only making head 
against the whole strength of the continental alliance, but was 
even gaining ground. Yet they were afraid to entrust their own 
King with the means of curbing France, lest those means should 
be used to destroy the liberties of P^ngland. The conflict be- 
tween these apprehensions, both of which were perfectly legiti- 
mate, made the policy of the Opposition seem as eccentric and 
fickle as that of the Court. The Commons called for a war 
with France, till the King, pressed by Danby to comply with 
their wish, seemed disposed to yield, and began to raise an army. 
But, as soon as they saw that the recruiting had commenced, 
their dread of Lewis gave place to a nearer dread. They began 
to fear that the new levies might be employed on a service in 
which Charles took much more interest than in the defence of 
Flanders. They therefore refused supplies, and clamoured for 
disbanding as loudly as they had just before clamoured for arm- 
ing. Those historians who have severely reprehended this 
inconsistency do not appear to have made sufficient allowance 
for the embarrassing situation of subjects who have reason to 
believe that their prince is conspiring with a foreign and hostile 
power against their liberties. To refuse him military resources 
is to leave the state defenceless. Yet to give him military 
resources may be only to arm him against the state. In such 
circumstances vacillation cannot be considered as a proof of dis- 
honesty or even of weakness. 

These jealousies were studiously fomented by the French 
King. He had long kept Englaud passive by promising to 
support the throne against the Parliament. He now, alarmed 
at finding that the patriotic counsels of Danby seemed likely to 
prevail in the closet, began to inflame the Parliament against 
the throne. Between Lewis and the Country Party there was 
one thing, and one only in common, profound distrust of Charles. 
Could the Country Party have been certain that their sovereign 
meant only to make war on France, they would have been 
eager to support him. Could Lewis have been certain that the 
new levies were intended only to make war on the constitution 
of England, he would have made no attempt to stop them. 


But the unsteadiness and faithlessness of Charles were such 
that the French Government and the English opposition, agree- 
ing in nothing else, agreed in disbelieving his protestations, 
and were equally desirous to keep him poor and without an 
army. Communications were opened between Barillon, the 
Ambassador of Lewis, and those English politicians who had 
always professed, and who indeed sincerely felt, the greatest 
dread and dislike of the French ascendency. The most up- 
right of the Country Party, William Lord Russell, son of the 
Earl of Bedford, did not scruple to concert with a foreign 
mission schemes for embarrassing his own sovereign. This 
was the whole extent of Russell's offence. His principles and 
his fortune alike raised him above all temptations of a sordid 
kind : but there is too much reason to believe that some of his 
associates were less scrupulous. It would be unjust to impute 
to them the extreme wickedness of taking bribes to injure their 
country. On the contrary, they meant to serve her : but it is 
impossible to deny that they were mean and indelicate enough 
to let a foreign prince pay them for serving her. Among those 
who cannot be acquitted of this degrading charge was one man 
who is popularly considered as the personification of public 
spirit, and who, in spite of some great moral and intellectual 
faults, has a just claim to be called a hero, a philosopher, and a 
patriot. It is impossible to see without pain such a name in 
the list of the pensioners of France. Yet it is some consolation 
to reflect that, in our time, a public man would be thought lost 
to all sense of duty aud of shame, who should not spurn from 
him a temptation which conquered the virtue and the pride of 
Algernon Sydney. 

The effect of these intrigues was that England, though she 
occasionally took a menacing attitude, remained inactive till 
the continental war, having lasted near seven years, was ter- 
minated by the treaty of Nimeguen. The United Provinces, 
which in 1672 had seemed to be on the verge of utter ruin, 
obtained honourable and advantageous terms. This narrow 
escape was generally ascribed to the ability and courage of the 
young Stadtholder. His fame was great throughout Europe, 


and especially among the English, who regarded him as one of 
their own princes, and rejoiced to see him the husband of 
their future Queen. France retained many important towns 
in the Low Countries and the great province of Franche 
Comte. Almost the whole loss was borne by the decaying 
monarchy of Spain. 

A few mouths after the termination of hostilities on the 
Continent came a great crisis in English politics. Towards 
such a crisis things had been tending during eighteen years. 
The whole stock of popularity, great as it was, with which the 
King had commenced his administration, had long been ex- 
pended. To loyal enthusiasm had succeeded profound dis- 
affection. The public mind had now measured back again the 
space over which it had passed between 1640 and 1660, and 
was once more in the state in which it had been when the Lone: 
Parliament met. 

The prevailing discontent was compounded of many feelings. 
One of these was wounded national pride. That generation 
had seen England, during a few years, allied on equal terms 
with France, victorious over Holland and Spain, the mistress of 
the sea, the terror of Rome, the head of the Protestant interest. 
Her resources had not diminished ; and it might have been ex- 
pected that she would have been at least as highly considered 
in Europe under a legitimate King, strong in the affection and 
willing obedience of his subjects, as she had been under an 
usurper whose utmost vigilance and energy were required to 
keep down a mutinous people. Yet she had, in consequence of 
the imbecility and meanness of her rulers, sunk so low that any 
German or Italian principality which brought five thousand 
men into the field was a more important member of the com- 
monwealth of nations. 

With the sense of national humiliation was mingled anxiety 
for civil liberty. Rumours, indistinct indeed, but perhaps the 
more alarming by reason of their indistinctness, imputed to 
the court a deliberate design against all the constitutional rights 
of Englishmen. It had even been whispered that this design 
was to be carried into effect by the intervention of foreign 


arms. The thought of such intervention made the blood, even 
of the Cavaliers, boil in their veins. Some who had always 
professed the doctrine of non-resistance in its full extent were 
now heard to mutter that there was one limitation to that doc- 
trine. If a foreign force were brought over to coerce the 
nation, they would not answer for their own patience. 

But neither national pride nor anxiety for public liberty had 
so great an influence on the popular mind as hatred of the 
Roman Catholic religion. That hatred had become one of the 
ruling passions of the community, and was as strong in the 
ignorant and profane as in those who were Protestants from con- 
viction. The cruelties of Mary's reign, cruellies which even in 
the most accurate and sober narrative excite just detestation, 
and which were neither accurately nor soberly related in the 
popular martyrologies, the conspiracies against Elizabeth, and 
above all the Gunpowder Plot, had left in the minds of the 
vulgar a deep and bitter feeling which was kept up by annual 
commemorations, prayers, bonfires, and processions. It should 
be added that those classes which were peculiarly distinguished 
by attachment to the throne, the clergy and the landed gentry, 
had peculiar reasons for regarding the Church of Rome with 
aversion. The clergy trembled for their benefices ; the landed 
gentry for their abbeys and great tithes. While the memory of 
the reign of the Saints was still recent, hatred of Popery had 
in some degree given place to hatred of Puritanism ; but, during 
the eighteen years which had elapsed since the Restoration, the 
hatred of Puritanism had abated, and the hatred of Popery had 
increased. The stipulations of the treaty of Dover were accu- 
rately known to very few ; but some hints had got abroad. The 
general impression was that a great blow was about to be aimed 
at the Protestant religion. The King was suspected by many 
of a leaning towards Rome. His brother and heir presumptive 
was known to be a bigoted Roman Catholic. The first Duchess 
of York had died a Roman Catholic. James had then, in de- 
fiance of the remonstrances of the House of Commons, taken to 
wife the Princess Mary of Modena, another Roman Catholic. 
If there should be sons by this marriage, there was reason to 


fear that they might be bred Roman Catholics, and that a long 
succession of princes, hostile to the established faith, might sit 
on the English throne. The constitution had recently been 
violated for the purpose of protecting the Roman Catholics from 
the penal laws. The ally by whom the policy of England had, 
during many years, been chiefly governed, was not only a 
Roman Catholic, but a persecutor of the reformed Churches. 
Under such circumstances it is not strange that the common 
people should have been inclined to apprehend a return of the 
times of her whom they called Bloody Mary. 

Thus the nation was in such a temper that the smallest 
spark might raise a fLame. At this conjuncture lire was set iu 
two places at once to the vast mass of combustible matter ; and 
in a moment the whole was in a blaze. 

The French court, which knew Danby to be its mortal 
enemy, artfully contrived to ruin him by making him pass for 
its friend. Lewis, by the instrumentality of Ralph Montague, 
a faithless and shameless man who had resided in France as 
minister from England, laid before the House of Commons 
proofs that the Treasurer had been concerned in an application 
made b} r the Court of Whitehall to the Court of Versailles for 
a sum of money. This discovery produced its natural effect. 
The Treasurer was, in truth, exposed to the vengeance of Par- 
liament, not on account of his delinquencies, but on account of 
his merits ; not because he had been an accomplice in a crim- 
inal transaction, but because he had been a most unwilling and 
unserviceable accomplice. But of the circumstances, which 
have, in the judgment of posterity, greatly extenuated his fault, 
his contemporaries were ignorant. In their view he was the 
broker who had sold England to France. It seemed clear that 
his greatness was at an end, and doubtful whether his head 
could be saved. 

Yet was the ferment excited by this discovery slight, w r hen 
compared with the commotion which arose when it was noised 
abroad that a great Popish plot had been detected. One 
Titus Gates, a clergyman of the Church of England, had, by 
his disorderly life and heterodox doctrine, drawn on himself tb» 


censure of his spiritual superiors, had been compelled to quit 
his benefice, and had ever since led an infamous and vagrant 
life. He had once professed himself a Roman Catholic, and 
had passed some time on the Continent in English colleges of 
the order of Jesus. In those seminaries he had heard much 
wild talk about the best means of bringing England back to the 
true Church. From hints thus furnished he constructed a hid- 
eous romance, resembling rather the dream of a sick man than 
any transaction which ever took place in the real world. The 
Pope, he said, had entrusted the government of England to the 
Jesuits. The Jesuits had, by commissions under the seal of 
their society, appointed Roman Catholic clergymen, noblemen, 
and gentlemen, to all the highest offices in Church and State. 
The Papists had burned down London once. They had tried 
to burn it down again. They were at that moment planning a 
scheme for setting fire to all the shipping in the Thames. They 
were to rise at a signal and massacre all their Protestant neigh- 
bours. A French army was at the same time to land in Ireland. 
All the leading statesmen and divines of England were to be 
murdered. Three or four schemes had been formed for assas- 
sinating the King. He was to be stabbed. He was to be poi- 
soned in his medicine. He was to be shot with silver bullets. 
The public mind was so sore and excitable that these lies readily 
found .credit with the vulgar ; and two events which speedily 
took place led even some reflecting men to suspect that the 
tale, though evidently distorted and exaggerated, might have 
some foundation. 

Edward Coleman, a very busy, and not very honest, Roman 
Catholic intriguer, had been among the persons accused. 
Search was made for his papers. It was found that 'he had just 
destroyed the greater part of them. But a few which had es- 
caped contained some passages such as, to minds strongly pre- 
possessed, might seem to confirm the evidence of Oates. Those 
passages indeed, when candidly construed, appear to express 
little more than the hopes which the posture of affairs, the pre- 
dilections of Charles, the still stronger predilections of James, 
and the relations existing between the French and English 


courts, might naturally excite in the mind of a Roman Catholic 
strongly attached to the interests of his Church. But the coun- 
try was not then inclined to construe the letters of Papists can- 
didly ; and it was urged, with some show of reason, that, if 
papers which had been passed over as unimportant were filled 
with matter so suspicious, some great mystery of iniquity must 
have been contained in those documents which had been care- 
fully committed to the flames. 

A few days later it was known that Sir Edmondsbury God- 
frey, an eminent justice of the peace who had taken the deposi- 
tions of Oates against Coleman, had disappeared. Search was 
made ; and Godfrey's corpse was found in a field near London. 
It was clear that he had died by violence. It was equally clear 
that he had not been set upon by robbers. His fate is to this 
day a secret. Some think that lie perished by his own hand ; 
some, that he was slain by a private enemy. The most improb- 
able supposition is that he was murdered by the party hostile 
to the court, in order to give colour to the story of the plot. 
The most probable supposition seems, on the whole, to be that 
some hotheaded Roman Catholic, driven to frenzy by the lies of 
Oates and by the insults of the multitude, and not nicely dis- 
tinguishing between the perjured accuser and the innocent mag- 
istrate, had taken a revenge of which the history of persecuted 
sects furnishes but too many examples. If this were so, the 
assassin must have afterwards bitterly execrated his own wick- 
edness and folly. The capital and the whole nation went mad 
with hatred and fear. The penal laws, which had begun to 
lose something of their edge, were sharpened anew. Every- 
where justices were busied in searching houses and seizing 
papers. All the gaols were filled with Papists. London had 
the aspect of a city in a state of siege. The trainbands were 
under arms all night. Preparations were made for barricading 
the great thoroughfares. Patrols marched un and down the 
streets. Cannon were planted round "Whitehall. No citizen 
thought himself safe unless he carried under his coat a small 
flail loaded with lead to brain the Popish assassins. The corpse 
of the murdered magistrate was exhibited during several days 


to the gaze of great multitudes, and was then committed to the 
crave with strange and terrible ceremonies, which indicated 
rather fear and the thirst of vengeance than sorrow or religious 
hope. The Houses insisted that a guard should be placed in 
the vaults over which they sate, in order to secure them against 
a second Gunpowder Plot. All their proceedings were of a 
piece with this demand. Ever since the reign of Elizabeth the 
oath of supremacy had been exacted from members of the 
House of Commons. Some Roman Catholics, however, had 
contrived so to interpret this oath that they could take it without 
scruple. A more stringent test was now added : every member 
of Parliament was required to make the Declaration against 
Transubstantiation ; and thus the Roman Catholic Lords were 
for the first time excluded from their seats. Strong resolutions 
were adopted against the Queen. The Commons threw one of 
the Secretaries of State into prison for having countersigned 
commissions directed to gentlemen who were not good Protes- 
tants. They impeached the Lord Treasurer of high treason. 
Nay, they so far forgot the doctrine which, while the memory 
of the civil war was still recent, they had loudly professed, that 
they even attempted to wrest the command of the militia out of 
the King's hands. To such a temper had eighteen years of 
misgovernment brought the most loyal Parliament that had 
ever met in England. 

Yet it may seem strange that, even in that extremity, the 
King should have ventured to appeal to the people ; for the 
people were more excited than their representatives. The 
Lower House, discontented as it was, contained a larger num- 
ber of Cavaliers than were likely to find seats again. But it 
was thought that a dissolution would put a stop to the prosecu- 
tion of the Lord Treasurer, a prosecution which might probably 
bring to light all the guilty mysteries of the French alliance, and 
might thus cause extreme personal annoyance and embarrass- 
ment to Charles. Accordingly, in January, 1679, the Parliament, 
which had been in existence ever since the beginning of the 
year 1 CGI, was dissolved; and writs were issued for a general 


During some weeks the contention over the whole country 
was fierce and obstinate beyond example. Unprecedented sums 
were expended. New tactics were employed. It was remark- 
ed by the pamphleteers of that time as something extraordinary 
that horses were hired at a great charge for the conveyance of 
electors. The practice of splitting freeholds for the purpose of 
multiplying votes dates from this memorable struggle. Dissent- 
ing preachers, who had long hidden themselves in quiet nooks 
from persecution, now emerged from their retreats, and rode 
from village to village, for the purpose of rekindling the zeal 
of the scattered people of God. The tide ran strong against 
the government. Most of the new members came up to West- 
minster in a mood little differing from that of their predeces- 
sors who had sent Strafford and Laud to the Tower. 

Meanwhile the courts of justice, which ought to be, in the 
midst of political commotions, sure places of refuge for the 
innocent of every party, were disgraced by wilder passions and 
fouler corruptions than were to be found even on the hustings. 
The tale of Oates, though it had sufficed to convulse the whole 
realm, would not, unless confirmed by other evidence, suffice to 
destroy the humblest of those whom he had accused. For, by 
the old law of England, two witnesses are necessary to establish 
a charge of treason. But the success of the first impostor 
produced its natural consequences. In a few weeks he had 
been raised from penury and obscurity to opulence, to power 
which made him the dread of princes and nobles, and to notoriety 
such as has for low and bad minds all the attractions of glory. 
He was not long without coadjutors and rivals. A wretch 
named Carstairs, who had earned a livelihood in Scotland by 
going disguised to conventicles and then informing against the 
preachers, led the way. Bedloe, a noted swindler, followed; 
and soon from all the brothels, gambling houses, and spunging 
houses of London, false witnesses poured forth to swear away the 
lives of Roman Catholics. One came with a story about an 
army of thirty thousand men who were to muster in the disguise 
of pilgrims at Corunna, and to sail thence to Wales. Another 
had been promised canonisation and five hundred pounds to 


murder the King. A third had stepped into an eating house 
in Covent Garden, and had there heard a great Roman Catholic 
banker vow, in the hearing of all the guests and drawers, to 
kill the heretical tyrant. Oates, that he might not be eclipsed 
by his imitators, soon added a large supplement to his original 
narrative. He had the portentous impudence to affirm, among 
other things, that he had once stood behind a door which was 
ajar, and had there overheard the Queen declare that she had re- 
solved to give her consent to the assassination of her husband. The 
vulgar believed, and the highest magistrates pretended to believe, 
even such fictions as these. The chief judges of the realm were 
corrupt, cruel, and timid. The leaders of the Country Party 
encouraged the prevailing delusion. The most respectable 
among them, indeed, were themselves so far deluded as to be- 
lieve the greater part of the evidence of the plot to be true. 
Such men as Shaftesbury and Buckingham doubtless perceived 
that the whole was a romance. But it was a romance which 
served their turn ; and to their seared consciences the death of 
an innocent man gave no more uneasiness than the death of a 
partridge. The juries partook of the feelings then common 
throughout the nation, and were encouraged by the bench to in- 
dulge those feelings without restraint. The multitude applauded 
Oates and his confederates, hooted and pelted the witnesses who 
appeared on behalf of the accused, and shouted with joy when 
the verdict of Guilty was pronounced. It was in vain that the 
sufferers appealed to the respectability of their past lives : for 
the public mind was possessed with a belief that the more con- 
scientious a Papist was, the more likely he must be to plot 
against a Protestant government. It was in vain that, just 
before the cart passed from under their feet, they resolutely 
affirmed their innocence : for the general opinion was that a good 
Papist considered all lies which were serviceable to his Church 
as not only excusable but meritorious. 

While innocent blood was shedding under the forms of jus- 
tice, the new Parliament met ; and such was the violence of the 
predominant party that even men whose youth had been passed 
amidst revolutions, men who remembered the attainder of Straf- 


ford, the attempt on the five members, the abolition of the 
House of Lords, the execution of the King, stood aghast at the 
aspect of public affairs. The impeachment of Danby was re- 
sumed. He pleaded the royal pardon. But the Commons 
treated the plea with contempt, and insisted that the trial should 
proceed. Danby, however, was not their chief object. They 
were convinced that the onlv effectual way of securing the 
liberties and religion of the nation was to exclude the Duke of 
York from the throne. 

The King was in great perplexity. He had insisted that 
his brother, the sight of whom inflamed the populace to mad- 
ness, should retire for a time to Brussels : but this concession 
did not seem to have produced any favourable effect. The 
Roundhead party was now decidedly preponderant. Towards 
that party leaned millions who had, at the time of the Restora- 
tion, leaned towards the side of prerogative. Of the old Cava- 
liers many participated in the prevailing fear of Popery, and 
many, bitterly resenting the ingratitude of the prince for whom 
they had sacrificed so much, looked on his distress as carelessly 
as he had looked on theirs. Even the Anglican clergy, morti- 
fied and alarmed by the apostasy of the Duke of York, so far 
countenanced the opposition as to join cordially in the outcry 
against the Roman Catholics. 

The King in this extremity had recourse to Sir William 
Temple. Of all the official men of that age Temple had pre- 
served the fairest character. The Triple Alliance had been his 
work. He had refused to take any part in the politics of the 
Cabal, and had, while that administration directed affairs, lived 
in strict privacy. He had quitted his retreat at the call of 
Danby, had made peace between England and Holland, and 
had borne a chief part in bringing about the marriage of the 
Lady Mary to her cousin the Prince of Orange. Thus he had 
the credit of every one of the few good tilings which had been 
done by the government since the Restoration. Of the numer- 
ous crimes and blunders of the last eighteen years none could 
be imputed to him. His private life, though not austere, was 
decorous : his manners were popular ; and he was not to be 


corrupted either by titles or by money. Something, however, 
was wanting to the character of this respectable statesman. The 
temperature of his patriotism was lukewarm. He prized his 
ease and his personal dignity too much, and shrank from re- 
sponsibility with a pusillanimous fear. Nor indeed had his 
habits fitted him to bear a part in the conflicts of our domestic 
factions. lie had reached his fiftieth year without having sate 
in the English Parliament ; and his official experience had been 
almost entirely acquired at foreign courts. He was justly 
esteemed one of the first diplomatists in Europe: but the 
talents and accomplishments of a diplomatist are widely differ- 
ent from those which qualify a politician to lead the House of 
Commons in agitated times. 

The scheme which he proposed showed considerable ingenu- 
ity. Though not a profound philosopher, he had thought more 
than most busy men of the world on the general principles of 
government ; and his mind had been enlarged by historical 
studies and foreign travel. He seems to have discerned more 
clearly than most of his contemporaries one cause of the diffi- 
culties by which the government was beset. The character of 
the English polity was gradually changing. The Parliament 
was slowly, but constantly, gaining ground on the prerogative. 
The line between the legislative and executive powers was in 
theory as strongly marked as ever, but in practice was daily be- 
coming fainter and fainter. The theory of the constitution was 
that the King might name his own ministers. But the House 
of Commons had driven Clarendon, the Cabal, and Danby suc- 
cessively from the direction of affairs. The theory of the con- 
stitution was that the King alone had the power of making 
peace and war. But the House of Commons had forced him to 
make peace with Holland, and had all but forced him to make 
war with France. The theory of the constitution was that the 
King was the sole judge of the cases in which it might be 
proper to pardon offenders. Yet he was so much in dread of 
the House of Commons that, at that moment, he could not ven- 
ture to rescue from the gallows men whom he well knew to be 
the innocent victims of perjury. 


Temple, it should seem, was desirous to secure to the legis- 
lature its undoubted constitutional powers, and yet to prevent 
it, if possible, from encroaching further on the province of the 
executive administration. With this view he determined to in- 
terpose between the sovereign and the Parliament a body which 
might, break the shock of their collision. There was a body, 
ancient, highly honourable, and recognised by the law, which, 
he thought, might be so remodelled as to serve this purpose. 
He determined to give to the Privy Council a new character 
and office in the government. The number of Councillors he 
fixed at thirty. Fifteen of them were to be the chief ministers 
of state, of law, and of religion. The other fifteen were to be 
unplaced noblemen and gentlemen of ample fortune and high 
character. There was to be no interior cabinet. All the thirty 
were to be entrusted with every political secret, and summoned 
to every meeting ; and the King was to declare that he would, 
on every occasion, be guided by their advice. 

Temple seems to have thought that, by this contrivance, he 
could at once secure the nation against the tyranny of the 
Crown, and the Crown against the encroachments of the Par- 
liament. It was, on one hand, highly improbable that schemes 
such as had been formed by the Cabal would be even propounded 
for discussion in an assembly consisting of thirty eminent men, 
fifteen of whom were bound by no tie of interest to the court. 
On the other hand, it might be hoped that the Commons, con- 
tent with the guarantee against misgovernment which such a 
Privy Council furnished, would confine themselves more than 
they had of late done to their strictly legislative functions, and 
would no longer think it necessary to pry into every part of the 
executive administration. 

This plan, though in some respects not unworthy of the 
abilities of its author, was in principle vicious. The new board 
was half a cabinet and half a Parliament, and, like almost every 
other contrivance, whether mechanical or political, which is 
meant to serve two jmrposes altogether different, failed of ac- 
complishing either. It was too large and too divided to be a 
good administrative body. It was too closel} r connected with 


the Crown to be a good checking body. It contained just 
enough of popular ingredients to make it a bad council of state, 
unfit for the keeping of secrets, for the conducting of delicate 
negotiations, and for the administration of war. Yet were these 
popular ingredients by no means sufficient to secure the nation 
against misgovernment. The plan, therefore, even if it had 
been fairly tried, could scarcely have succeeded ; and it was not 
fairly tried. The King was fickle and perfidious : the Parlia- 
ment was excited and unreasonable ; and the materials out of 
which the new Council was made, though perhaps the best 
which that age afforded, were still bad. 

The commencement of the new system was, however, hailed 
with general delight ; for the people were in a temper to think 
any change an improvement. They were also pleased by some 
of the new nominations. Shaftesbury, now their favourite, was 
appointed Lord President. Russell and some other distinguished 
members of the Country Party were sworn of the Council. But 
a few davs later all was again in confusion. The inconveniences 
of having so numerous a cabinet were such that Temple himself 
consented to infringe one of the fundamental rules which he had 
laid down, and to become one of a small knot which really 
directed everything. With him were joined three other minis- 
ters, Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, George Savile, Viscount 
Halifax, and Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland. 

Of the Earl of Essex, then First Commissioner of the 
Treasury, it is sufficient to say that he was a man of solid, 
though not brilliant parts, and of grave and melancholy charac- 
ter, that he had been connected with the Country Party, and 
that he was at this time honestly desirous to effect, on terms 
beneficial to the state, a reconciliation between that party and 
the throne. 

Among the statesmen of those times Halifax was, in genius, 
the first. His intellect was fertile, subtle, and capacious. His 
polished, luminous, and animated eloquence, set off by the silver 
tones of his voice, was the delight of the House of Lords. His 
conversation overflowed with thought, fancy, and wit. His 
political tracts well deserve to be studied for their literary 



merit, and fully entitle him to a place among English classics. 
To the weight derived from talents so great and various he 
united all the influence which belongs to rank and ample posses- 
sions. Yet he was less successful in politics than many who 
enjoyed smaller advantages. Indeed, those intellectual pecu- 
liarities which make his writings valuable frequently impeded 
him in the contests of active life. For he always saw passing 
events, not in the point of view in which they commonly appear 
to one who bears a part in them, but in the point of view in 
which, after the lapse of many years, they appear to the phil- 
osophic historian. With such a turn of mind, he could not long 
continue to act cordially with any body of men. All the pre- 
judices, all the exaggerations, of both the great parties in the 
state moved his scorn. He despised the mean arts and unrea- 
sonable clamours of demagogues. He despised still more the 
doctrines of divine right and passive obedience. He sneered 
impartially at the bigotry of the Churchman and at the bigotry 
of the Puritan. He was equally unable to comprehend how 
any man should object to Saints' days and surplices, and how 
any man should persecute any other man for objecting to them. 
In temper he was what, in our time, is called a Conservative: 
in theory he was a Republican. Even when his dread of 
anarchy and his disdain for vulgar delusions led him to side for 
a time with the defenders of arbitrary power, his intellect was 
always with Locke and Milton. Indeed, his jests upon heredi- 
tary monarchy were sometimes such as would have better 
become a member of the Calf's Head Club than a Privy Coun- 
cillor of the Stuarts. In religion he was so far from bein£ a 
zealot that he was called by the uncharitable an atheist : but 
this imputation he vehemently repelled ; and in truth, though 
he sometimes gave scandal by the way in which he exerted his 
rare powers both of reasoning and of ridicule on serious sub- 
jects, he seems to have been by no means unsusceptible of 
religious impressions. 

He was the chief of those politicians whom the two great 
parties contemptuously called Trimmers. Instead of quarrel- 
ling with this nickname, he assumed it as a title of honour, and 


vindicated, with great vivacity, the dignity of the appellation. 
Everything good, he said, trims between extremes. The tem- 
perate zone trims between the climate in which men are roasted 
and the climate in which they are frozen. The English Church 
trims between the Anabaptist madness and the Papist lethargy. 
The English constitution trims between Turkish despotism and 
Polish anarchy. Virtue is nothing but a just temper between 
propensities any one of which, if indulged to excess, becomes 
vice. Nay, the perfection of the Supreme Being himself con- 
sists in the exact equilibrium of attributes, none of which could 
preponderate without disturbing the whole moral and physical 
order of the world.* Thus Halifax was a Trimmer on principle. 
He was also a Trimmer by the constitution both of his head 
and of his heart. His understanding was keen, sceptical, inex- 
haustibly fertile in distinctions and objections ; his taste refined; 
his sense of the ludicrous exquisite ; his temper placid and for- 
giving, but fastidious, and by no means prone either to malev- 
olence or to enthusiastic admiration. Such a man could not 
long be constant to any band of political allies. He must not, 
however, be confounded with the vulgar crowd of renegades. 
For though, like them, he passed from side to side, his transition 
was always in the direction opposite to theirs. He had nothing 
in common with those who fly from extreme to extreme, and 
who regard the party which they have deserted with an ani- 
mosity far exceeding that of consistent enemies. His place was 
on the debatable ground between the hostile divisions of the 
community, and he never wandered far beyond the frontier of 
either. The party to which he at any moment belonged was 
the party which, at that moment, he liked least, because it was 
the party of which at that moment he had the nearest view. 
He was therefore always severe upon his violent associates, and 
was always in friendly relations with his moderate opponents. 
Every faction in the day of its insolent and vindictive triumph 
incurred his censure ; and every faction, when vanquished and 
persecuted, found in him a protector. To his lasting honour it 

* Halifax was undoubtedly the real author of the Character of a Trimmer, 
which, for a time, went under the name of his kinsman, Sir William Coventry. 


must be mentioned that he attempted to save those victims 
whose fate has left the deepest stain both on the Whig and on 
the Tory name. 

He had greatly distinguished himself in opposition, and had 
thus drawn on himself the royal displeasure, which was indeed 
so strong that he was not admitted into the Council of Thirty 
without much difficulty and long altercation. As soon, however, 
as he had obtained a footing at court, the charms of his manner 
and of his conversation made him a favourite. He was seriously 
alarmed by the violence of the public discontent. He thought 
that liberty was for the present safe, and that order and legiti- 
mate authority were in danger. He therefore, as was his fashion, 
joined himself to the weaker side. Perhaps his conversion was 
not wholly disinterested. For study and reflection, though they 
had emancipated him from many vulgar prejudices, had left him 
a slave to vulgar desires. Money he did not want ; and there 
is no evidence that he ever obtained it by any means which, in 
that age, even severe censors considered as dishonourable ; but 
rank and power had strong attnn tions for him. He pretended, 
indeed, that he considered titles and great offices as baits which 
could allure none but fools, that he hated business, pomp, and 
pageantry, and that his dearest wish was to escape from the 
bustle and glitter of Whitehall to the quiet woods which sur- 
rounded his ancient mansion in Nottinghamshire ; but his con- 
duct was not a* little at variance with his professions. In truth 
he wished to command the respect at once of courtiers and of 
philosophers, to be admired for attaining high dignities, and to 
be at the same time admired for despising them. 

Sunderland was Secretary of State. In this man the polit- 
ical immorality of his age was personified in the most lively 
manner. Nature had given him a keen understanding, a rest- 
less and mischievous temper, a cold heart, and an abject spirit. 
His mind had undergone a training by which all his vices had 
been nursed up to the rankest maturity. ' At his entrance into * 
public life, he had passed several years in diplomatic posts abroad, 
and had been, during some time, minister in France. Every 
calling has its peculiar temptations. There is no injustice in 


saying that diplomatists, as a class, have always been more dis- 
tinguished by their address, by the art with which they win the 
confidence of those with whom they have to deal, and by the 
ease with which they catch the tone of every society into which 
they are admitted, than by generous enthusiasm or austere recti- 
tude ; and the relations between Charles and Lewis were such 
that no English nobleman could long reside in France as envoy v 
and retain any patriotic or honourable sentiment. Sunderland 
came forth from the bad school in which he had been brought 
up, cunning, supple, shameless, free from all prejudices, and 
destitute of all principles. He was, by hereditary connection, a 
Cavalier : but with the Cavaliers he had nothing in common. 
They were zealous for monarchy, and condemned in theory all 
resistance. Yet they had sturdy English hearts which would 
never have endured real despotism. He, on the contrary, had 
a languid speculative liking for republican institutions which 
was compatible with perfect readiness to be in practice the most 
servile instrument of arbitrary power. Like many other accom- 
plished flatterers and negotiators, he was far more skilful in the 
art of reading the characters and practising on the weaknesses 
of individuals, than in the art of discerning the feelings of great 
masses, and of foreseeing the approach of great revolutions. 
He was adroit in intrigue ; and it was difficult even for shrewd 
and experienced men who had been amply forewarned of his 
perfidy to withstand the fascination of his manner, and to refuse 
credit to his professions of attachment. But he was so intent 
on observing and courting particular persons, that he often 
forgot to study the temper of the nation. He therefore miscal- 
culated grossly with respect to some of the most momentous 
events of his time. More than one important movement and 
rebound of the public mind took him by surprise ; and the world, 
unable to understand how so clever a man could be blind to 
what was clearly discerned by the politicians of the coffee houses, 
sometimes attributed to deep design what were in truth mere 

It was only in private conference that his eminent abilities 
displayed themselves. In the royal closet, or in a very small 


circle, he exercised great influence. But at the Council board 
he was taciturn ; and in the House of Lords he never opened 
his lips. 

The four confidential advisers of the crown soon found that 
their position was embarrassing and invidious. The other 
members of the Council murmured at a distinction inconsistent 
with the King's promises ; and some of them, with Shaftesbury 
at their head, again betook themselves to strenuous opposition 
in Parliament. The agitation, which had been suspended by 
the late changes, speedily became more violent than ever. It 
was in vain that Charles offered to grant to the Commons any 
security for the Protestant religion which they could devise, 
provided only that they would not touch the order of succession. 
They would hear of no compromise. They would have the 
Exclusion Bill, and nothing but the Exclusion Bill. The King, 
therefore, a few. weeks after he had publicly promised to take 
no step without the advice of his new Council, went down to 
the House of Lords without mentioning his intention in Coun- 
cil, and prorogued the Parliament. 

The day of that prorogation, the twenty -sixth of May, 1679, 
is a great era in our history. For on that day the Habeas 
Corpus Act received the royal assent. From the time of the 
Great Charter the substantive law respecting the personal lib- 
erty of Englishmen had been nearly the same as. at present: 
but it had been inefficacious for want of a stringent system of 
procedure. What was needed was not a new right, but a 
prompt and searching remedy ; and such a remedy the Habeas 
Corpus Act supplied. The King would gladly have refused his 
consent to that measure : but he was about to appeal from his 
Parliament to his people on the question of the succession, and 
he could not venture, at so critical a moment, to reject a bill 
which was in the highest degree popular. 

On the same day the press of England became for a short 
time free. In old times printers had been strictly controlled 
by the Court of Star Chamber. The Long Parliament had 
abolished the Star Chamber, but had, in spite of the philo- 
sophical and eloquent expostulation of Milton, established and 


maintain?*! a censorship. Soon after the Restoration, an Act 
had been passed which prohibited the printing of unlicensed 
books ; & id it had been provided that this Act should continue 
in force till the end of the first session of the next Parliament. 
That moment had now arrived ; and the King, in the very act 
of dismissing the House, emancipated the Press. 

Shortly after the prorogation came a dissolution and another 
general election. The zeal and strength of the opposition were 
at the height. The cry for the Exclusion Bill was louder than 
ever ; and with this cry was mingled another cry, which fired 
the blood of the multitude, but which was heard with regret 
and alarm by all judicious friends of freedom. Not only the 
rights of the Duke of York, an avowed Papist, but those of 
his two daughters, sincere and zealous Protestants, were assailed. 
It was confidently affirmed that the eldest natural son of the 
Kinsr had been born in wedlock, and was lawful heir to the 

Charles, while a wanderer on the Continent, had fallen in at 
the Hague with Lucy Walters, a Welsh girl of great beauty, 
but of weak understanding and dissolute manners. She be- 
came his mistress, and presented him with a son. A suspicious 
lover might have had his doubts ; for the lady had several ad- 
mirers, and was not supposed to be cruel to any. Charles, how- 
ever, readily took her word, and poured forth on little James 
Crofts, as the boy was then called, an overflowing fondness, 
such as seemed hardly to belong to that cool and careless nature. 
Soon after the restoration, the young favourite, who had learned 
in France the exercises then considered necessary to a fine 
gentleman, made his appearance at Whitehall. He was lodged 
in the palace, attended by pages, and permitted to enjoy several 
distinctions which had till then been confined to princes of the 
blood royal. He was married, while still in tender youth, to 
Anne Scott, heiress of the noble house of Buccleuch. He took 
her name, and received with her hand possession of her ample 
domains. The estate which he had acquired by this match was 
popularly estimated at not less than ten thousand pounds a 
year. Titles, and favours more substantial than titles, were 


lavished on him. He was made Duke of Monmouth in Eng- 
land, Duke of Buccleuch in Scotland, a Knight of the Garter, 
Master of the Horse, Commander of the first troop of Life 
Guards, Chief Justice of Eyre south of Trent, and Chancellor 
of the University of Cambridge. Nor did he appear to the 
public unworthy of his high fortunes. His countenance was 
eminently handsome and engaging, his temper sweet, his man- 
ners polite and affable. Though a libertine, he won the hearts 
of the Puritans. Though he was known to have been privy to 
the shameful attack on Sir John Coventry, he easily obtained 
the forgiveness of the Country Party. Even austere moral- 
ists owned that, in such a court, strict conjugal fidelity was 
scarcely to be expected from one who, while- a child, had been 
married to another child. Even patriots were willing to excuse 
a headstrong boy for visiting with immoderate vengeance an in- 
sult offered to his father. And soon the stain left by loose 
amours and midnight brawls was effaced by honourable ex- 
ploits. When Charles and Lewis united their forces against 
Holland, Monmouth commanded the English auxiliaries who 
were sent to the Continent, and approved himself a gallant 
soldier and a not unintelligent officer. On his return he found 
himself the most popular man in the kingdom. Nothing was 
withheld from him but the crown ; nor did even the crown 
seem to be absolutely beyond his reach. The distinction which 
had most injudiciously been made between him and the highest 
nobles had produced evil consequences. When a boy he had 
been invited to put on his hat in the presence chamber, while 
Howards and Seymours stood uncovered round him. When 
foreign princes died, he had mourned for them in the long pur- 
ple cloak, which no other subject, except the Duke of York 
and Prince Rupert, was permitted to wear. It was natural that 
these things should lead him to regard himself as a legitimate 
prince of the House of Stuart. Charles, even at a ripe age, was 
devoted to his pleasures and regardless of his dignity. It could 
hardly be thought incredible that he should at twenty have 
secretly gone through the form of espousing a lady whose 
beauty had fascinated him. While Monmouth was still a child, 


and while the Duke of York still passed for a Protestant, it was 
rumoured throughout the country, and even in circles which 
ought to have been well informed, that the King had made 
Lucy Walters his wife, and that, if every one had his right, her 
son would be Prince of Wales. Much was said of a certain 
black box which, according to the vulgar belief, contained the 
contract of marriage. When Monmouth had returned from the 
Low Countries with a high character for valour and conduct, 
and when the Duke of York was known to be a member of a 
church detested by the great majority of the nation, this idle 
story became important. For it there was not the slightest 
evidence. Against it there was the solemn asseveration of the 
King, made before his Council, and by his order communicated 
to his people. But the multitude, always fond of romantic ad- 
ventures, drank in eagerly the tale of the secret espousals and 
the black box. Some chiefs of the opposition acted on this oc- 
casion as they acted with respect to the more odious fables of 
Oates, and countenanced a story which they must have despised. 
The interest which the populace took in him whom they re- 
garded as the champion of the true religion, and the rightful heir 
of the British throne, was kept up by every artifice. When Mon- 
mouth arrived in London at midnight, the watchmen were or- 
dered by the magistrates to proclaim the joyful event through 
the streets of the City : the people left their beds : bonfires were 
lighted : the windows were illuminated : the churches were 
opened ; and a merry peal rose from all the steeples. When 
he travelled, he was everywhere received with not less pomp, 
and with far more enthusiasm, than had been displayed when 
Kings had made progresses through the realm. He was es- 
corted from mansion to mansion by long cavalcades of armed gen- 
tlemen and yeomen. Cities poured forth their whole popula- 
tion to receive him. Electors thronged round him, to assure him 
that their votes were at his disposal. To such a height were his 
pretensions carried, that he not only exhibited on his escutcheon 
the lions of England and the lilies of France without the baton 
sinister under which, according to the law of heraldry, they should 


have been debruised in token of his illegitimate birth, but ven- 
tured to touch for the king's evil. At the same time he neglected 
no art of condescension by which the love of the multitude could 
be conciliated. He stood godfather to the children of the peas- 
antry, mingled in every rustic sport, wrestled, played at quarter- 
staff, and won footraces in his boots ao-ainst fleet runners in shoes. 

It is a curious circumstance that, at two of the greatest con- 
junctures in our history, the chiefs of the Protestant party should 
have committed the same error, and should by that error have 
greatly endangered their country and their religion. At the 
death of Edward the Sixth they set up the Lady Jane, without 
any show of birthright, in opposition, not only to their enemy 
Mary, but also to Elizabeth, the true hope of England and of 
the Reformation. Thus the most respectable Protestants, with 
Elizabeth at their head, were forced to make common cause 
with the Papists. In the same manner, a hundred and thirty 
years later, a part of the opposition, by setting up Monmouth 
as a claimant of the crown, attacked the rights, not only of 
James, whom they justly regarded as an implacable foe of their 
faith and their liberties, but also of the Prince and Princess of 
Orange, who were eminently marked out, both by situation and 
by personal qualities, as the defenders of all free governments 
and of all reformed churches. 

The folly of this course speedily became manifest. At pres- 
ent the popularity of Monmouth constituted a great part of the 
strength of the opposition. The elections went against the 
court : the day fixed for the meeting of the Houses drew near ; 
and it was necessary that the King should determine on some 
line of conduct. Those who advised him discerned the first 
faint signs of a change of public feeling, and hoped that, by 
merely postponing the conflict, he would be able to secure the 
victory. He therefore, without even asking the opinion of the 
Council of the Thirty, resolved to prorogue the new Parliament 
before it entered on business. At the same time the Duke of 
York, who had returned from Brussels, was ordered to retire to 
Scotland, and was placed at the head of the administration of 
that kingdom. 


Temple's plan of government was now avowedly abandoned 
and very soon forgotten. The Privy Council again became 
what it had been. Shaftesbury, and those who were connected 
with him in politics resigned their seats. Temple himself, as 
was his wont in unquiet times, retired to his garden and his 
library. Essex quitted the board of Treasury, and cast in his 
lot with the opposition. But Halifax, disgusted and alarmed 
by the violence of his old associates, and Sunderland, who never 
quitted place while he could hold it, remained in the King's 

In consequence of the resignations which took place at this 
conjuncture, the way to greatness was left clear to a new set 
of aspirants. Two statesmen, who subsequently rose to the 
highest eminence which a British subject can reach, soon began 
to attract a large share of the public attention. These were 
Lawrence Hyde and Sidney Godolphin. 

Lawrence Hyde was the second son of the Chancellor Clar- 
endon, and was brother of the first Duchess of York. He had 
excellent parts, which had been improved by parliamentary and 
diplomatic experience ; but the infirmities of his temper detracted 
much from the effective strength of his abilities. Negotiator 
and courtier as he was, he never learned the art of governing or 
of concealing his emotions. When prosperous, he was insolent 
and boastful : when he sustained a check, his undisguised mortifi- 
cation doubled the triumph of his enemies : very slight provo- 
cations sufficed to kindle his anger ; and when he was angry 
he said bitter things which he forgot as soon as he was pacified, 
but which others remembered many years. His quickness and 
penetration would have made him a consummate man of busi- 
ness but for his selfsufficiency and impatience. His writings 
proved that he had many of the qualities of an orator : but his 
irritability prevented him from doing himself justice in debate; 
for nothing was easier than to goad him into a passion ; and, 
from the moment when he went into a passion, he was at the 
mercy of opponents far inferior to him in capacity. 

Unlike most of the leading politicians of that generation he 
was a consistent, dogged, and rancorous party man. a Cavalier 


of the old school, a zealous champion of the Crown and of the 
Church, and a hater of Republicans and Nonconformists. Ho 
had consequently a great body of personal adherents. The 
clergy especially looked on him as their own man, and extended 
to his foibles an indulgence of which, to say the truth, he stood 
in some need : for he drank deep ; and when he was in a rage, — 
and he very often was in a rage, — he swore like a porter. 

He now succeeded Essex at the treasury. It is to be observed 
that the place of First Lord of the Treasury had not then the 
importance and dignity which now belong to it. When there 
was a Lord Treasurer, that great officer was generally prime 
minister : but, when the white staff was in commission, the 
chief commissioner hardly ranked so high as a Secretary of 
State. It was not till the time of Walpole that the First Lord 
of the Treasury became, under a humbler name, all that the 
Lord High Treasurer had been. 

Godolphin had been bred a page at Whitehall, and had early 
acquired all the flexibility and the selfpossession of a veteran 
courtier. He was laborious, clearheaded, and profoundly 
versed in the details of finance. Every government, therefore, 
found him an useful servant ; and there was nothing in his opin- 
ions or in his character which could prevent him from serving 
any government. " Sidney Godolphin," said Charles, " is never 
in the way, and never out of the way." This pointed remark 
goes far to explain Godolphin's extraordinary success in life. 

He acted at different times with both the great political 
parties : but he never shared in the passions of either. Like 
most men of cautious tempers and prosperous fortunes, he had a 
strong disposition to support whatever existed. , He disliked 
revolutions ; and, for the same reason for which he disliked 
revolutions, he disliked counter-revolutions. His deportment 
was remarkably grave and reserved : but his personal tastes 
were low and frivolous ; and most of the time which he could 
save from public business was spent in racing, cardplaying, and 
cockfighting. He now sate below Rochester at the Board of 
Treasury, and distinguished himself there by assiduity and 


Before the new Parliament was suffered to meet for the 
despatch of business a whole year elapsed, an eventful year, 
which 1 as left lasting traces in our manners and language. 
Never before hud political controversy been carried on with so 
much freedom. Never before had political clubs existed with 
so elaborate an organisation or so formidable an influence. 
The one question of the Exclusion occupied the public mind. 
All the presses and pulpits of the realm took part in the con- 
flict. On one side it was maintained that the constitution and 
religion of the state could never be secure under a Popish 
King ; on the other, that the right of James to wear the crown 
ia his turn was derived from God, and could not be annulled, 
even by the consent of all the branches of the legislature. 
Every county, every town, every family, was in agitation. 
The civilities and hospitalities of neighbourhood were inter- 
rupted. The dearest ties of friendship and of blood were sun- 
dered. Even schoolboys were divided into angry parties ; and 
the Duke of York and the Earl of Shaftesbury had zealous 
adherents on all the forms of Westminster and Eton. The 
theatres shook with the roar of the contending factions. Pope 
Joan was brought on the stage by the zealous Protestants. 
Pensioned poets filled their prologues and epilogues with 
eulogies on the King and the Duke. The malecon tents be- 
sieged the throne with petitions, demanding that Parliament 
'might be forthwith convened. The royalists sent up addresses, 
expressing the utmost abhorrence of all who j^resumed to dictate 
to the sovereign. The citizens of London assembled by tens 
of thousands to burn the Pope in effigy. The government 
posted cavalry at Temple Bar, and placed ordnance round 
Whitehall. In that year our tongue was enriched with two 
words, Mob and Sham, remarkable memorials of a season of 
tumult and imposture.* Opponents of the court were called 
Birminghams, Petitioners, and Exclusionists. Those who took 
the King's side were Antibirminghams, Abhorrers, and Tan- 
tivies. These appellations soon become obsolete : but at tins 
time were first heard two nicknames which, though originally 

* North's Examen, 231, 574. 


given in insult, were soon assumed with pride, which are still 
in daily use, which have spread as widely as the English race, 
and which will last as long as the English literature. It is a 
curious circumstance that one of these nicknames was of 
Scotch, and the other of Irish, origin. Both in Scotland and 
in Ireland, misgovernment had called into existence bands of 
desperate men whose ferocity was heightened by religious 
enthusiasm. In Scotland some of the persecuted Covenanters, 
driven mad by oppression, had lately murdered the Primate, 
had taken arms against the government, had obtained some 
advantages against the King's forces, and had not been put 
down till Monmouth, at the head of some troops from England, 
had routed them at Bothwell Bridge. These zealots were 
most numerous among the rustics of the western lowlands, who 
were vulgarly called Whigs. Thus the appellation of Whig 
was fastened on the Presbyterian zealots of Scotland, and was 
transferred to those English politicians who showed a disposition 
to oppose the court, and to treat Protestant Nonconformists 
with indulgence. The bogs of Ireland, at the same time, 
afforded a refuge to Popish outlaws, much resembling those 
who were afterwards known as Whiteboys. These men were 
then called Tories. The name of Tory was therefore given to 
Englishmen who refused to concur in excluding a Roman 
Catholic prince from the throne. 

The rage of the hostile factions would have been sufficiently 
violent, if it had been left to itself. But it was studiously 
exasperated by the common enemy of both. Lewis still con- 
tinued to bribe and natter both the court and the opposition. 
He exhorted Charles to be firm : he exhorted James to raise a 
civil war in Scotland : he exhorted the Whigs not to flinch, and 
to rely with confidence on the protection of France. 

Through all this agitation a discerning eye might have 
perceived that the public opinion was gradually changing. 
The persecution of the Roman Catholics went on ; but con- 
victions were no longer matters of course. A new brood of 
false witnesses, among whom a villain named Dangerfield was 
the most conspicuous, infested the courts : but the stories of 


these men, though better constructed than that of Oates, found 
less credit. Juries were no longer so easy of belief as during 
the panic which had followed the murder of Godfrey ; and 
Judges, who, while the popular frenzy was at the height, had 
been it3 most obsequious instruments, now ventured to express 
some part of what they had from the first thought. 

At length, in October 1G80, the Parliament met. The 
Whigs had so great a majority in the Commons that the Exclu- 
sion Bill went through all its stages there without difficulty. 
The King scarcely knew on what members of his own cabinet he 
could reckon. Hyde had been true to his Tory opinions, and 
had steadily supported the cause of hereditary monarchy. But 
Godolphin, anxious for quiet, and believing that quiet could be 
restored only by concession, wished the bill to pass. Sunderland, 
ever false, and ever shortsighted, unable to discern the signs of 
approaching reaction, and anxious to conciliate the party which 
he believed to be irresistible, determined to vote against the court. 
The Duchess of Portsmouth implored her royal lover not to rush 
headlong to destruction. If there were any point on which he 
had a scruple of conscience or of honour, it was the question 
of the succession ; but during some days it seemed that he would 
submit. He wavered, asked what sum the Commons would give 
him if he yielded, and suffered a negotiation to be opened with 
the leading Whigs. But a deep mutual distrust which had been 
many years growing, and which had been carefully nursed by 
the arts of France, made a treaty impossible. Neither side 
would place confidence in the other. The whole nation now 
looked with breathless anxiety to the House of Lords. The 
assemblage of peers was large. The King himself was present. 
The debate was long, earnest, and occasionally furious. Some 
hands were laid on the pommels of swords in a manner which 
revived the recollection of the stormy Parliaments of Edward 
the Third and Richard the Second. Shaftesbury and Essex 
were joined by the treacherous Sunderland. But the genius of 
Halifax bore down all opposition. Deserted by his most im- 
portant colleagues, and opposed to a crowd of able antagonists, 
he defended the cause of the Duke of York, in a succession of 


speeches which, many years later, were remembered as master- 
pieces of reasoning, of wit, and of eloquence. It is seldom that 
oratory changes votes. Yet the attestation of contemporaries 
leaves no doubt that, on this occasion, votes were changed by 
the oratory of Halifax. The Bishops, true to their doctrines, 
supported the principle of hereditary right, and the bill was 
rejected by a great majority.* 

The party which preponderated in the House of Commons, 
bitterly mortified by this defeat, found some consolation in shed- 
ding the blood of Roman Catholics. William Howard, .Viscount 
Stafford, one of the unhappy men who had been accused of 
a share in the plot, was impeached ; and on the testimony of 
Oates and of two other false witnesses, Dugdale and Turberville, 
was found guilty of high treason, and suffered death. But the 
circumstances of his trial and execution ought to have given an 
useful warning to the Whig leaders. A large and respectable 
minority of the House of Lords pronounced the prisoner not 
guilty. The multitude, which a few months before had received 
the dying declarations oi Oates's victims with mockery and ex- 
ecrations, now loudly expressed a belief that Stafford was a 
murdered man. When he with his last breath protested his 
innocence, the cry was, " God bless you, my Lord ! We believe 
you, my Lord." A judicious observer might easily have pre- 
dicted that the blood then shed would shortly have blood. 

The King determined to try once more the experiment of a 
dissolution, A new Parliament was summoned to meet at 

* A peer who was present has described the effect of Halifax's oratory in words 
which I will quote, because, though they have been long in print, they are prob- 
ably known to few even of the most curious and diligent readers of history. 

" Of powerful eloquence and great parts were the Duke's enemies who did 
assert the Bill ; but a noble Lord appeared against it who, that day, in all the force 
of speech, in reason, in arguments of what could concern the public or the private 
interests of men, in honaur, in conscience, in estate, did outdo himself and every 
other man ; and in fine his conduct and his parts were both victorious, and by 
him all the wit and malice of that party was overthrown." 

This passage is taken from a memoir of Henry Earl of Peterborough, in a 
volume entitled "Succinct Genealogies, by Robert Halstead," fol. 1685. The 
name of nalstead is fictitious. The real authors were the Earl of Peterborough 
himself and his chaplain. The book is extremelv rare. Only twenty-four copies 
were printed, two of which are now in the British Museum. Of these two one 
belonged to George the Fourth, and the other to Mr. Grenville. 


Oxford, in March. 1681. Since the days of the Plantagenets 
the Houses had constantly sat at Westminster, except when the 
plague was raging in the capital : but so extraordinary a conjunc- 
ture seemed to require extraordinary precautions. If the Parlia- 
ment were held in its usual place of assembling, the House 
of Commons might declare itself permanent, and might call for 
aid on the magistrates and citizens of London. The trainbands 
might rise to defend Shaftesbury as they had risen forty years 
before to defend Pym and Hampden. The Guards might be 
overpowered, the palace forced, the King a prisoner in the hands 
of his mutinous subjects. At Oxford there was no such danger. 
The University was devoted to the crown ; and the gentry of 
the neighbourhood were generally Tories. Here, therefore, the 
opposition had more reason than the King to apprehend violence. 

The elections were sharply contested. The Whigs still 
composed a majority of the House of Commons : but it was 
plain that the Tory spirit was fast rising throughout the coun- 
try. It should seem that the sagacious and versatile Shaftes- 
bury ought to have foreseen the coming change, and to have 
consented to the compromise which the court offered : but he 
appears to have forgotten his old tactics. Instead of making 
dispositions which, in the worst event, would have secured his 
retreat, he took up a position in which it was necessary that he 
should either conquer or perish. Perhaps his head, strong as 
it was, had been turned by popularity, by success, and by the 
excitement of conflict. Perhaps he had spurred his party till 
he could no longer curb it, and was really hurried on headlong 
by those whom he seemed to guide. 

The eventful day arrived. The meeting at Oxford resem- 
bled rather that of a Polish Diet than that of an English Par- 
liament. The Whig members were escorted by great numbers 
of their armed and mounted tenants and serving men, who ex- 
changed looks of defiance with the royal Guards. The slight- 
est provocation might, under such circumstances, have produced 
a civil war ; but neither side dared to strike the first blow. The 
King again offered to consent to anything but the Exclusion 
Bill. The Commons were determined to accept nothing but the 



Exclusion Bill. In a few days the Parliament was again dis- 

The King had triumphed. The reaction, which had begun 
some months before the meeting of the House at Oxford, now 
went rapidly on. The nation, indeed, was still hostile to Popery : 
but, when men reviewed the whole history of the plot, they 
felt that their Protestant zeal had hurried them into folly and 
crime, and could scarcely believe that they had been induced by 
nursery tales to clamour for the blood of fellow subjects and 
fellow Christians. The most loyal, indeed, could not deny that 
the administration of Charles had often been highly blamable. 
But men who had not the full information which we possess 
touching his dealings with France, and who were disgusted bv 
the violence of the Whigs, enumerated the large concessions 
which, during the last few years he had made to his Parliaments, 
and the still larger concessions which he had declared himself 
willing to make. He had consented to the laws which excluded 
Roman Catholics from the House of Lords, from the Privy 
Council, and from all civil and military offices. He had passed 
the Habeas Corpus Act. If securities yet stronger had not 
been provided against the dangers to which the constitution and 
the Church might be exposed under a Roman Catholic sovereign, 
the fault lay, not with Charles who had invited the Parliament 
to propose such securities, but with those Whigs who had re- 
fused to hear of any substitute for the Exclusion Bill. One 
thing only had the King denied to his people. He had refused 
to take away his brother's birthright. And was there not good 
reason to believe that this refusal was prompted by laudable 
feelings ? What selfish motive could faction itself impute to 
the royal mind ? The Exclusion Bill did not curtail the reign- 
ing King's prerogatives, or diminish his income. Indeed, by 
passing it, he might easily have obtained an ample addition to 
his own revenue. And what was it to him who ruled after him ? 
Nay, if he had personal predilections, they were known to be 
rather in favour of the Duke of Monmouth than of the Duke 
of York. The most natural explanation of the King's conduct 
seemed to be that, careless as was his temper and loose as were 



his morals, he had, on this occasion, acted from a sense of duty 
and honour. And, if so, would the nation compel him to do 
what he thought criminal and disgraceful ? To apply, even by 
strictly constitutional means, a violent pressure to his conscience, 
seemed to zealous royalists ungenerous and undutiful. But 
strictly constitutional means were not the only means which the 
Whigs were disposed to employ. Signs were already discerni- 
ble which portended the approach of great troubles. Men, who, 
in the time of the civil war and of the Commonwealth, had ac- 
quired an odious notoriety, had emerged from the obscurity in 
which, after the Restoration, they had hidden themselves from 
the general hatred, showed their confident and busy faces every- 
where, and appeared to anticipate a second reign of the Saints. 
Another Naseby, another High Court of Justice, another 
usurper on the throne, the Lords again ejected from their hall 
by violence, the Universities again purged, the Church again 
robbed and persecuted, the Puritans again dominant, to such 
results did the desperate policy of the opposition seem to tend. 
Strongly moved by these apprehensions, the majority of the 
upper and middle classes hastened to rally round the throne. 
The situation of the King bore, at this time, a great resemblance 
to that in which his father stood just after the Remonstrance 
had been voted. But the reaction of 1041 had not been suf- 
fered to run its course. Charles the First, at the very moment 
when his people, long estranged, were returning to him with 
hearts disposed to reconciliation, had, by a perfidious violation 
of the fundamental laws of the realm, forfeited their confidence 
for ever. Had Charles the Second taken a similar course, had 
he arrested the Whig leaders in an irregular manner, had he 
impeached them of high treason before a tribunal which had no 
legal jurisdiction over them, it is highly probable that they 
would speedily have regained the ascendency which they had 
lost. Fortunately for himself, he was induced, at this crisis, to 
adopt a policy singularly judicious. He determined to conform 
to the law, but at the same time to make vigorous and unsparing 
use of the law against his adversaries. He was not bound to 
convoke a Parliament till three years should have elapsed. He 


was not much distressed for money. The produce of the taxes 
which had been settled on him for life exceeded the estimate. 
He was at j)eace with all the world. He could retrench his 
expenses by giving up the costly and useless settlement of 
Tangier ; and he might hope for pecuniary aid from France. 
He had, therefore, ample time and means for a systematic 
attack on the opposition under the forms of the constitution. 
The Judges were removable at his pleasure: the juries were 
nominated by the Sheriffs ; and, in almost all the counties of 
England, the Sheriffs were nominated by himself. Witnesses, 
of the same class with those who had recently sworn away the 
lives of Papists, were ready to swear away the lives of Whigs. 

The first victim was College, a noisy and violent demagogue 
of mean birth and education. He was by trade a joiner, and 
was celebrated as the inventor of the Protestant flail.* He 
had been at Oxford when the Parliament sate there, and was 
accused of having planned a rising and an attack on the King's 
guards. Evidence was given against him by Dugdale and Tur- 
berville, the same infamous men who had, a few months earlier, 
borne false witness against Stafford. In the sight of a jury of 
country squires no Exclusionist was likely to find favour. 
College was convicted. The crowd which filled the court house 
of Oxford received the verdict with a roar of exultation, as bar- 
barous as that which he and his friends had been in the habit 
of raising when innocent Papists were doomed to the gallows. 
His execution was the beginning of a new judicial massacre 
not less atrocious than that in which he had himself borne a 

The government, emboldened by this first victory, now 
aimed a blow at an enemy of a very different class. It was 
resolved that Shaftesbury should be brought to trial for his life. 
Evidence was collected which, it was thought, would support a 
charge of treason. But the facts which it was necessary to 
prove were alleged to have been committed in London. The 

* This is mentioned in the curious work entitled "Ragguaglio della solenne 
Comparsa fatta in Eoma gli otto di Gennaio, 1687, dall' illustrissimo et eccellen- 
tissimo signor Conte di Castlemaine." 


Sheriffs of London, chosen by the citizens, were zealous Whigs. 
They named a Whig grand jury, which threw out the bill. 
This defeat, far from discouraging those who advised the Kino- 
suggested to them a new and daring scheme. Since the charter 
of the capital was in their way, that charter must be annulled. 
It was pretended, therefore, that the City had by some irregu- 
larities forfeited its municipal privileges ; and proceedings were 
instituted against the corporation in the Court of King's Bench. 
At the same time those laws which had, soon after the Restora- 
tion, been enacted against Nonconformists, and which had re- 
mained dormant during the ascendency of the Whigs, were 
enforced all over the kingdom with extreme rigour. 

Yet the spirit of the Whigs was not subdued. Though in 
evil plight, they were still a numerous and powerful party ; and. 
as they mustered strong in the large towns, and especially in 
the capital, they made a noise and a show more than propor- 
tioned to their real force. Animated by the recollection of 
past triumphs, and by the sense of present oppression, they 
overrated both their strength and their wrongs. It was not 
in their power to make out that clear and overwhelming 
case which can alone justify so violent a remedy as resistance 
to an established government. Whatever they might suspect, 
they could not prove that their sovereign had entered into 
a treaty with France against the religion and liberties of 
England. What was apparent was not sufficient to warrant an 
appeal to the sword. If the Lords had thrown out the Exclu- 
sion Bill, they had thrown it out in the exercise of a right 
coeval with the constitution. If the King had dissolved the 
Oxford Parliament, he had done so by virtue of a prerogative 
which had never been questioned. If he had, since the dissolu- 
tion, done some harsh things, still those things were in strict 
conformity with the letter of the law, and with the recent 
practice of the malecontents themselves. If he had prosecuted 
his opponents, he had prosecuted them according to the proper 
forms, and before the proper tribunals. The evidence now pro- 
duced for the crown was at least as worthy of credit as the 
evidence on which the noblest blood of England had lately been 


shed by the opposition. The treatment which an accused Whig 
had now to expect from judges, advocates, sheriffs, juries and 
spectators, was no worse than the treatment which had lately 
been thought by the Whigs good enough for an accused Papist. 
If the privileges of the City of London were attacked, fchey 
were attacked, not by military violence or by any disputable 
exercise of prerogative, but according to the regular practice of 
Westminster Hall. No tax was imposed by royal authority. 
No law was suspended. The Habeas Corpus Act was respected. 
Even the Test Act was enforced. The opposition, therefore, 
could not bring home to the King that species of misgovern- 
ment which alone could justify insurrection. And, even had 
his misgovernment been more flagrant than it was, insurrection 
would still have been criminal, because it was almost certain to 
be unsuccessful. The situation of the Whigs in 1682 differed 
widely from that of the Roundheads forty years before. Those 
who took up arms against Charles the First acted under the 
authority of a Parliament which had been legally assembled, 
and which could not, without its own consent, be legally dis- 
solved. The opponents of Charles the Second were private 
men. Almost all the military and naval resources of the king- 
dom had been at the disposal of those who resisted Charles the 
First. All the military and naval resources of the kingdom 
were at the disposal of Charles the Second. The House of 
Commons had been supported by at least half the nation 
against Charles the First. But those who were disposed to 
levy war against Charles the Second were certainly a minority. 
It could hardly be doubted, therefore, that, if they attempted a 
rising, they would fail. Still less could it be doubted that their 
failure would aggravate every evil of which they complained. 
The true policy of the Whigs was to submit with patience to 
adversity which was the natural consequence and the just pun- 
ishment of their errors, to wait patiently for that turn of public 
feeling which must inevitably come, to observe the law, and to 
avail themselves of the protection, imperfect indeed, but by no 
means nugatory, which the law afforded to iunocence. Unhap- 
pily they took a very different course. Unscrupulous and hot- 


headed chiefs of the party formed and discussed schemes of 
resistance, and were heard, if not with approbation, yet with the 
show of acquiescence, by much better men than themselves. It 
was proposed that there should be simultaneous insurrections in 
London, in Cheshire, at Bristol, and at Newcastle. Communi- 
cations were opened with the discontented Presbyterians of 
Scotland, who were suffering under a tyranny such as England, 
in the worst times, had never known. While the leaders of the 
opposition thus revolved plans of open rebellion, but were still 
restrained by fears or scruples from taking any decisive step, a 
design of a very different kind was meditated by some of their 
accomplices. To fierce spirits, unrestrained by principle, or 
maddened by fanaticism, it seemed that to waylay and murder 
the King and his brother was the shortest and surest way of 
vindicating the Protestant religion and the liberties of England. 
A place and a time were named ; and the details of the butchery 
were frequently discussed, if not definitely arranged. This 
scheme was known but to few, and was concealed with especial 
care from the upright and humane Russell, and from Mon- 
mouth, who, though not a man of delicate conscience, would 
have recoiled with horror from the guilt of parricide. Thus 
there were two plots, one within the other. The object of the 
great Whig plot was to raise the nation in arms against the 
government. The lesser plot, commonly called the Rye House 
Plot, in which only a few desperate men were concerned, had 
for its object the assassination of the King and of the heir 

Both plots were soon discovered. Cowardly traitors hastened 
to save themselves, by divulging all, and more than all, that 
had passed in the deliberations of the party. That only a small 
minority of those who meditated resistance had admitted into 
their minds the thought of assassination is fully estab- 
lished : but, as the two conspiracies ran into each other, 
it was not difficult for the government to confound them to- 
gether. The just indignation excited by the Rye House Plot 
was extended for a time to the whole Whig body. The King 
was now at liberty to exact full vengeance for years of restraint 


and humiliation. Shaftesbury, indeed, had escaped the fate 
which his manifold perfidy had well deserved. He had seen 
that the ruin of his party was at hand, had in vain endeavoured 
to make his peace with the royal brothers, had fled to Holland, 
and had died there, under the generous protection of a govern- 
ment which he had cruelly wronged. Monmouth threw himself 
at his father's feet and found mercy, but soon gave new offence, 
and thought it prudent to go into voluntary exile. Essex per- 
ished by his own hand in the Tower. Russell, who appears to 
have been guilty of no offence falling within the definition of 
high treason, and Sidney, of whose guilt no legal evidence could 
be produced, were beheaded in defiance of law and justice. 
Russell died with the fortitude of a Christian, Sidney with the 
fortitude of a Stoic. Some active politicians of meaner rank 
were sent to the gallows. Many quitted the country. Numer- 
ous prosecutions for misprision of treason, for libel, and for con- 
spiracy were instituted. Convictions were obtained without 
difficulty from Tory juries, and rigorous punishments were in- 
flated by courtly judges. With these criminal proceedings were 
joined civil proceedings scarcely less formidable. Actions were 
brought against persons who had defamed the Duke of York ; 
and damages tantamount to a sentence of perpetual imprison- 
ment were demanded by the plaintiff, and without difficulty 
obtained. The Court of King's Bench pronounced that the 
franchises of the City of London were forfeited to the Crown. 
Flushed with this great victory, the government proceeded to 
attack the constitutions of other corporations which were gov- 
erned by Whig officers, and which had been in the habit of re- 
turning Whig members to Parliament. Borough after borough 
was compelled to surrender its privileges ; and new charters 
were granted which gave the ascendency everywhere to the 

These proceedings, however reprehensible, had yet the sem- 
blance of legality. They were also accompanied by an act 
intended to quiet the uneasiness with which many loyal men 
looked forward to the accession of a Popish sovereign. The 
Lady Anne, younger daughter of the Duke of York by his first 


wife, was married to George, a prince of the orthodox House 
of Denmark. The Tory gentry and clergy might now flatter 
themselves that the Church of England had been effectually 
secured without any violation of the order of succession. The 
King and the heir presumptive were nearly of the same age. 
Both were approaching the decline of life. The King's health 
was good. It was therefore probable that James, if he came to 
the throne, would have but a short reign. Beyond his reign 
there was the gratifying prospect of a long series of Protestant 

The liberty of unlicensed printing was of little or no use to 
the vanquished party ; for the temper of judges and juries was 
such that no writer whom the government prosecuted for a libel 
had any chance of escaping. The dread of punishment there- 
fore did all that a censorship could have done. Meanwhile, the 
pulpits resounded with harangues against the sin of rebellion. 
The treatises in which Filmer maintained that hereditary des- 
potism was the form of government ordained by God, and that 
limited monarchy was a pernicious absurdity, had recently ap- 
peared, and had been favourably received by a large section of 
the Tory party. The university of Oxford, on the very day 
on which Russell was put to death, adopted by a solemn public 
act these strange doctrines, and ordered the political works of 
Buchanan, Milton, and Baxter to be publicly burned in the court 
of the Schools. 

Thus emboldened, the King at length ventured to overstep 
the bounds which he had during some years observed, and to 
violate the plain letter of the law. The law was that not more 
than three years should pass between the dissolving of one Par- 
liament and the convoking of another. But, when three years 
had elapsed after the dissolution of the Parliament which sate 
at Oxford, no writs were issued for an election. This infraction 
of the constitution was the more reprehensible, because the King 
had little reason to fear a meeting with a new House of Com- 
mons. The counties were generally on his side ; and many 
boroughs in which the Whigs had lately held sway had been so 
remodelled that they were certain to return none but courtiers. 


In a short time the law was again violated in order to gratify 
the Duke of York. That prince was, partly on account of his 
religion, and partly on account of the sternness and harshness 
of his nature, so unpopular that it had been thought necessary 
to keep him out of sight while the Exclusion Bill was before 
Parliament, lest his appearance should give an advantage to the 
party which was struggling to deprive him of his birthright. 
He had therefore been sent to govern Scotland, where the sav- 
age old tyrant Lauderdale was sinking into the grave. Even 
Lauderdale was now outdone. The administration of James 
was marked by odious laws, by barbarous punishments, and by 
judgments to the iniquity of which even that age furnished no 
parallel. The Scottish Privy Council had power to put state 
prisoners to the question. But the sight was so dreadful that, 
as soon as the boots appeared, even the most servile and hard- 
hearted courtiers hastened out of the chamber. The board was 
sometimes quite deserted : and it was at length found necessary 
to make an order that the members should keep their seats on 
such occasions. The Duke of York, it was remarked, seemed 
to take pleasure in the spectacle which some of the worst men 
then living were unable to contemplate without pity and horror. 
He not only came to Council when the torture was to be in- 
flicted, but watched the agonies of the sufferers with that sort of 
interest and complacency with which men observe a curious ex- 
periment in science. Thus he employed himself at Edinburgh, 
till the event of the conflict between the court and the "Whigs 
was no longer doubtful. He then returned to England : but he 
was still excluded by the Test Act from all public employment ; 
nor did the King at first think it safe to violate a statute which 
the great majority of his most loyal subjects regarded as one of 
the chief securities of their religion and of their civil rights. 
When, however, it appeared, from a succession of trials, that 
the nation had patience to endure almost anything that the 
government had courage to do, Charles ventured to dispense 
with the law in his brother's favour. The Duke again took his 
seat in the Council, and resumed the direction of naval affairs. 

These breaches of the constitution excited, it is true, some 


murmurs among the moderate Tories, and were not unani- 
mously approved even by the King's ministers. Halifax in 
particular, now a Marquess and Lord Privy Seal, had, from 
the very day on which the Tories had by his help gained the 
ascendant, begun to turn Whig. As soon as the Exclusion 
Bill had been thrown out, he had pressed the House of Lords 
to make provision against the danger to which, in the next 
reign, the liberties and religion of the nation might be exposed, 
lie now saw with alarm the violence of that reaction which 
was, in no small measure, his own work. He did not try to 
conceal the scorn which he felt for the servile doctrines of the 
University of Oxford. He detested the French alliance. lie 
disapproved of the long intermission of Parliaments. He re- 
gretted the severity with which the vanquished party was 
treated. He who, when the Whigs were predominant, had 
ventured to pronounce Stafford not guilty, ventured, when 
they were vanquished and helpless, to intercede for Russell. 
At one of the last Councils which Charles held a remarkable 
scene took place. The charter of Massachusetts had been for- 
feited. A question arose how, for the future, the colony should 
be governed. The general opinion of the board was that the 
whole power, legislative as well as executive, should abide in 
the crown. Halifax took the opposite side, and argued with 
great energy against absolute monarchy, and in favour of rep- 
resentative government. It was vain, he said, to think that a 
population, sprung from the English stock, and animated by 
English feelings, would long bear to be deprived of English 
institutions. Life, he exclaimed, would not be worth having 
in a country where liberty and property were at the mercy of 
one despotic master. The Duke of York was greatly incensed 
by this language, and represented to his brother the danger of 
retaining in office a man who appeared to be infected with all 
the worst notions of Marvell and Sidney. 

Some modern writers have blamed Halifax for continuing 
in the ministry while he disapproved of the manner in which 
both domestic and foreign affairs were conducted. But this 
censure is unjust. Indeed it is to be remarked that the word 


ministry, in the sense in which we use it, was then unknown.* 
The thins: itself did not exist ; for it belongs to an as;e in which 
parliamentary government is fully established. At present the 
chief servants of the crown form one body. They are under- 
stood to be on terms of friendly confidence with each other, and 
to agree as to the main principles on which the executive ad- 
ministration ou^ht to be conducted. If a slight difference of 
opinion arises among them, it is easily compromised : but, if 
one of them differs from the rest on a vital point, it is his duty 
to resign. While he retains his office, he is held responsible 
even for steps which he has tried to dissuade his colleagues 
from taking. In the seventeenth century, the heads of the 
various branches of the administration were bound together in 
no such partnership. Each of them was accountable' for his 
own acts, for the use which he made of his own official seal, 
for the documents which he signed, for the counsel which he 
gave to the King. No statesman was held answerable for what 
he had not himself done, or induced others to do. If he took 
care not to be the agent in what was wrong, and if, when con- 
sulted, he recommended what was right, he was blameless. It 
would have been thought strange scrupulosity in him to quit 
his post, because his advice as to matters not strictly within his 
own department was not taken by his master ; to leave the 
Board of Admiralty, for example, because the finances were in 
disorder, or the Board of Treasury because the foreign rela- 
tions of the kingdom were in an unsatisfactory state. It was, 
therefore, by no means unusual to see in high office, at the same 
time, men who avowedly differed from one another as widely 
as ever Pulteney differed from Walpole, or Fox from Pitt. 

The moderate and constitutional counsels of Halifax were 
timidly and feebly seconded by Francis North, Lord Guildford, 
who had lately been made Keeper of the Great Seal. The 
character of Guildford has been drawn at full length by his 
brother Roger North, a most intolerant Tory, a most affected 
and pedantic writer, but a vigilant observer of all those minute 

* North's Examen, 69. 


circumstances which throw light on the dispositions of men. It 
is remarkable that the biographer, though he was under the in- 
fluence of the strongest fraternal partiality, and though he was 
evidently anxious to produce a flattering likeness, was unable 
to portray the Lord Keeper otherwise than as the most ignoble 
of mankind. Yet the intellect of Guildford was clear, his in- 
dustry great, his proficiency in letters and science respectable, 
and his legal learning more than respectable. His faults were 
selfishness, cowardice, and meanness. He was not insensible to 
the power of female beauty, nor averse from excess in wine. 
Yet neither wine nor beauty could ever seduce the cautious and 
frugal libertine, even in his earliest youth, into one fit of indis- 
creet generosity. Though of noble descent, he rose in his pro- 
fession by paying ignominious homage to all who possessed 
influence in the courts. He became Chief Justice of the Com- 
mon Pleas, and as such was party to some of the foulest judicial 
murders recorded in our history. He had sense enough to per- 
ceive from the first that Gates and Bedloe were impostors : but 
the Parliament and the country were greatly excited : the govern- 
ment had yielded to the pressure ; and North was not a man to 
risk a good place for the sake of justice and humanity. Accord- 
ingly, while he was in secret drawing up a refutation of the 
whole romance of the Popish plot, he declared in public that 
the truth of the story was as plain as the sun in heaven, and 
was not ashamed to browbeat, from the seat of judgment, the 
unfortunate Roman Catholics who were arraigned before him 
for their lives. He had at length reached the highest post in 
the law. But a lawyer, who, after many years devoted to pro- 
fessional labour, engages in politics for the first time at an ad- 
vanced period of life, seldom distinguishes himself as a states- 
man ; and Guildford was no exception to the general rule. He 
was indeed so sensible of his deficiencies that he never attended 
the meetings of his colleagues on foreign affairs. Even on 
questions relating to his own profession his opinion had less 
weight at the Council board than that of any man who has ever 
held the Great Seal. Such as his influence was, however, he 
used it, as far as he dared, on the side of the laws. 


The chief opponent of Halifax was Lawrence Hyde, who 
had recently been created Earl of Rochester. Of all Tories, 
Rochester was the most intolerant and uncompromising. The 
moderate members of his party complained that the whole 
patronage of the Treasury, while he was First Commissioner 
there, went to noisy zealots, whose only claim to promotion was 
that they were always drinking confusion to Whiggeiy, and 
lighting bonfires to burn the Exclusion Bill. The Duke of 
York, pleased with a spirit which so much resembled his own, 
supported his brother in law passionately and obstinately. 

The attempts of the rival ministers to surmount and sup- 
plant each other kept the court in incessant agitation. Hali- 
fax pressed the King to summon a Parliament, to grant a gen- 
eral amnesty, to deprive the Duke of York of all share in the 
government, to recall Monmouth from banishment, to break 
with Lewis, and to form a close union with Holland on the 
principles of the Triple Alliance. The Duke of York, on the 
other hand, dreaded the meeting of a Parliament, regarded the 
vanquished Whigs with undiminished hatred, still flattered him- 
self that the design formed fourteen years before at Dover 
might be accomplished, daily represented to his brother the im- 
propriety of suffering one who was at heart a Republican to 
hold the Privy Seal, and strongly recommended Rochester for 
the great place of Lord Treasurer. 

While the two factions were struggling, Godolphin, cautious, 
silent, and laborious, observed a neutrality between them. Sun- 
derland, with his usual restless perfidy, intrigued against them 
both. He had been turned out of office in disgrace for having 
voted in favour of the Exclusion Bill, but had made his peace 
by employing the good offices of the Duchess of Portsmouth 
and by cringing to the Duke of York, and was once more Sec- 
retary of State. 

Nor was Lewis negligent or inactive. Evervthinsf at that 
moment favoured his designs. lie had nothing to apprehend 
from the German empire, which was then contending against 
the Turks on the Danube. Holland could not, unsupported 
venture to oppose him. Pie was therefore at liberty to indulge 


his ambition and insolence without restraint. He seized Stras- 
burg, Courtray, Luxemburg. He exacted from the republic of 
'Genoa the most humiliating submissions. The power of France 
at that time reached a higher point than it ever before or ever 
after attained, during the ten centuries which separated the 
reign of Charlemagne from the reign of Napoleon. It was not 
easy to say where her acquisitions would stop, if only England 
could be kept in a state of vassalage. The first object of the 
court of Versailles was therefore to prevent the calling of a 
Parliament and the reconciliation of English parties. For this 
end bribes, promises, and menaces were unsparingly employed. 
Charles was sometimes allured by the hope of a subsidy, and 
sometimes frightened by being told that, if he convoked the 
Houses, the secret articles of the treaty of Dover should be 
published. Several Privy Councillors were bought ; and at- 
tempts were made to buy Halifax, but in vain. When he had 
been found incorruptible, all the art and influence of the French 
embassy were employed to drive him from office: but his pol- 
ished wit and his various accomplishments had made him so 
agreeable to his master, that the design failed.* 

Halifax was not content with standing on the defensive. He 
openly accused Rochester of malversation. An inquiry took 
place. It appeared that forty thousand pounds had been lost 
to the public by the mismanagement of the First Lord of the 
Treasury. In consequence of this discovery he was not only 
forced to relinquish his hopes of the white staff, but was re- 
moved from the direction of the finances to the more dignified 
but less lucrative and important post of Lord President. " I 
have seen people kicked down stairs," said Halifax ; " but my 
Lord Rochester is the firpt person that I ever saw kicked up 

* Lord Preston, who was envoy at Paris, wrote thence to Halifax as follows : 
"I find that your Lordship lies still under the same misfortune of being no 
favourite to this court ; and Monsieur Barillon dare not do you the honour to 
shine upon you, since his master frowneth. They know very well your lordship's 
qualifications, which make them fear and consequently hate you ; and be assured, 
my lord, if all their strength can send you to Rufford, it shall be employed for 
that end. Two things, I hear, they particularly object against you, your secrecy, 
and your being incapable of being corrupted. Against these two things I know 
they have declared." The date of the letter is October 5, n. s. 1G83. 


stairs." Godolphin, now a peer, became First Commissioner of 
the Treasury. 

Still, however, the contest continued. The event depended 
wholly on the will of Charles ; and Charles could not come to 
a decision. In his perplexity he promised everything to every- 
body. He would stand by France : he would break with 
France : he would never meet another Parliament : he would 
order writs for a Parliament to be issued without delay. He 
assured the Duke of York that Halifax should be dismissed 
from office, and Halifax that the Duke should be sent to Scot- 
land. In public he affected implacable resentment against 
IMonmouth, and in private conveyed to Monmouth assurances 
of unalterable affec:ion. How Ions, if the Kind's life had 
"been protracted, his hesitation would have lasted, and what 
"would have been his resolve, can only be conjectured. Early in 
the year 1685, while hostile parties were anxiously awaiting his 
determination, he died, and a new scene opened. In a few 
months the excesses of the government obliterated the impres- 
sion which had been made on the public mind by the excesses 
of the opposition. The violent reaction which had laid the 
Whig party prostrate was followed by a still more violent re- 
action in the opposite direction ; and signs not to be mistaken 
indicated that the great conflict between the prerogatives of the 
Crown and the privileges of the Parliament, was about to. be 
brought to a final issue. 



I intend, in this chapter, to give a description of the state 
in which England was at the time when the crown passed from 
Charles the Second to his brother. Such a description, com- 
posed from scanty and dispersed materials, must necessarily be 
very imperfect. > Yet it may perhaps correct some false notions 
which would make the subsequent narrative unintelligible or 

If we would study with profit the history of our ancestors, 
we must be constantly on our guard against that delusion which 
the well known names of families, places, and offices naturally 
produce, and must never forget that the country of which we 
read was a very different country from that in which we live. 
In every experimental science there is a tendency towards per- 
fection. In every human being there is a wish to ameliorate 
his own condition. These two principles have often sufficed, 
even when counteracted by great public calamities and by bad 
institutions, to carry civilisation rapidly forward. No ordinary 
misfortune, no ordinary misgovernment, will do so much to 
make a nation wretched, as the constant progress of physical 
knowledge and the constant effort of every man to better him- 
self will do to make a nation prosperous. It has often been 
found that profuse expenditure, heavy taxation, absurd com- 
mercial restrictions, corrupt tribunals, disastrous wars, seditions, 
persecutions, conflagrations, inundations, have not been able to 
destroy capital so fast as the exertions of private citizens have 
been able to create it. It can easily be proved that, in our own 
land, the national wealth has, during at least six centuries, been 
almost uninterruptedly increasing ; that it was greater under 
the Tudors than under the Plantagenets ; that it was greater 



under the Stuarts than under the Tudors ; that, in spite of bat- 
tles, sieges, and confiscations, it was greater on the day of the 
Restoration than on the day when the Long Parliament met ; 
that, in spite of maladministration, of extravagance, of public 
bankruptcy, of two costly and unsuccessful wars, of the pesti- 
lence and of the fire, it was greater on the day of the death of 
Charles the Second than on the day of his Restoration. This 
progress, having continued during many ages, became at length, 
about the middle of the eighteenth century, portentously rapid, 
and has proceeded, during the nineteenth, with accelerated 
velocity. In consequence partly of our geographical and partly 
of our moral position, we have, during several generations, been 
exempt from evils which have elsewhere impeded the efforts 
and destroyed the fruits of industry. While every part of the 
Continent, from Moscow to Lisbon, has been the theatre of 
bloody and devastating wars, no hostile standard has been seen 
here but as a trophy. While revolutions have taken place all 
around us, our government has never once been subverted by 
violence. During more than a hundred years there has been in 
our island no tumult of sufficient importance to be called an in- 
surrection ; nor has the law been once borne down either by 
popular fury or by regal tyranny : public credit has been held 
sacred: the administration of justice has been pure: even in 
times which might by Englishmen be justly called evil times, 
we have enjoyed what almost every other nation in the world 
would have considered as an ample measure of civil and relig- 
ious freedom. Every man has felt entire confidence that the 
state would protect him in the possession of what had been 
earned bv his diligence and hoarded bv his selfdenial. Under 
the benignant influence of peace and liberty, science has flour- 
ished, and has been applied to practical purposes on a scale 
never before known. The consequence is that a change to 
which the history of the old world furnishes no parallel has 
taken place in our country. Could the England of 1685 be, 
by some magical process, set before our eyes, we should not 
know one landscape in a hundred or one buildi g in ten thou- 
sand. The country gentleman would not recognise his ow$» 


fields. The inhabitant of the town would not recognise his own 
street. Everything has been changed, but the great features of 
nature, and a few massive and durable works of human art. 
We mijiht find out Snowdon and Windermere, the Cheddar 
Cliffs and Beachy Head. We might find out here and there a 
Norman minster, or a castle which witnessed the wars of the 
Roses. But, with such rare exceptions, everything would be 
strange to us. Many thousands of square miles which are now 
rich corn land and meadow, intersected by green hedgerows, 
and dotted with villages and pleasant country seats, would ap- 
pear as moors overgrown with furze, or fens abandoned to 
wild ducks. We should see straggling huts built of wood and 
covered with thatch, where we now see manufacturing towns 
and seaports renowned to the farthest ends of the world. The 
capital itself would shrink to dimensions not much exceeding 
those of its present suburb on the south of the Thames. Not 
less strange to us would be the garb and manners of the peo- 
ple, the furniture and the equipages, the interior of the shops 
and dwellings. Such a change in the state of a nation seems 
to be at least as well entitled to the notice of a historian as any 
change of the dynasty or of the ministry.* 

One of the first objects of an inquirer, who wishes to form a 
correct notion of the state of a community at a given time, must 
be to ascertain of how many persons that community then con- 
sisted. Unfortunately the population of England in 1685, can- 
not be ascertained with perfect accuracy. For no great state had 
then adopted the wise course of periodically numbering the 
people. All men were left to conjecture for themselves ; and, 
as they generally conjectured without examining facts, and un- 
der the influence of strong passions and prejudices, their guesses 
were often ludicrously absurd. Even intelligent Londoners 

♦During the interval which has elapsed since this chapter was written, Eng- 
land has continued to advance rapidly in material prosperity. I have left my 
text nearly as it originally stood ; but I have added a few notes which may en- 
able the reader to form some notion of the progress which has been made during 
the last nine years ; and. in general. I would desire him to remember that there 
is scarcely a district which i3 not more populous, or a source of wealth which is 
not more productive, at present than in 1848. (1857.) 


ordinarily talked of London as containing several millions of 
souls. It was confidently asserted by many that, during the 
thirty-five years which had elapsed between the accession of 
Charles the First and the Restoration, the population of the City 
had increased by two millions.* Even while the ravages of 
the plague and fire were recent, it was the fashion to say that 
the capital still had a million and a half of inhabitants. f Some 
persons, disgusted by these exaggerations, ran violently into the 
opposite extreme. Thus Isaac Vossius, a man of undoubted 
parts and learning, strenuously maintained that there were only 
two millions of human beings in England, Scotland, and Ireland 
taken together. $ 

We are not, however, left without the means of correcting 
the wild blunders into which some minds were hurried by 
national vanity and others by a morbid love of paradox. There 
are extant three computations which seem to be entitled to pecu- 
liar attention. They are entirely independent of each other : 
they proceed on different principles ; and yet there is little dif- 
ference in the results. 

One of these computations was made in the year 1G96 by 
Gregory King, Lancaster herald, a political arithmetician of 
great acuteness and judgment. The basis of his calculations 
was the number of houses returned in 1G90 by the officers who 
made the last collection of the hearth money. The conclusion at 
which he arrived was that the population of England was nearly 
five millions and a half.§ 

About the same time King William the Third was desirous 
to ascertain the comparative strength of the religious sects into 

* Observations on the Bills of Mortality, by Captain John Gr&unt(Sir William 
Petty), cbap. xi. 

j- " She doth comprehend 

Full fifteen hundred thousand which do spend 
Their days within." 

Great Britain's Beauty, 1671. 
X Isaac Vossius, De Magnitudine Urbium Sinarum, 1685. Vossius, as we learn 
from Saint Evremond. talked on this subject of tener and longer than fashionable 
circles cared to listen. 

§ King's Natural and Political Observations, 1696. This valuable treatise, which 
ought to be read as the author wrote it, and not as garbled by Davenant, will be 
found in some editions of Chalmers's Estimate. 


which the community was divided. An inquiry was instituted ; 
and reports were laid before him from all the dioceses of 
the realm. According to these reports the number of his En- 
glish subjects must have been about five million two hundred 

Lastly, in our own days, Mr. Finlaison, an actuary of 
eminent skill, subjected the ancient parochial registers of bap- 
tisms # , marriages, and burials, to all the tests which the modern 
improvements in statistical science enabled him to apply. His 
opinion was, that, at the close of the seventeenth century, the 
population of England was a little under live million two hun- 
dred thousand souls. f 

Of these three estimates, framed without concert by different 
persons from different sets of materials, the highest, which is that 
of King, does not exceed the lowest, which is that of Finlaison, 
by one twelfth. We may, therefore, with confidence pronounce 
that, when James the Second reigned, England contained be- 
tween five million and five million five hundred thousand inhabi- 
tants. On the very highest supposition she then had less than 
one third of her present population, and less than three times the 
population which is now collected in her gigantic capital. 

The increase of the people has been great in every part of 
the kingdom, but generally much greater in the northern than 
in the southern shires. In truth a large part of the country 
beyond Trent was, down to the eighteenth century, in a state 
of barbarism. Physical and moral causes had concurred to 
prevent civilisation from spreading to that region. The air 
was inclement ; the soil was generally such as required skilful 
and industrious cultivation ; and there could be little skill or 
industry in a tract which was often the theatre of war, and 
which, even when there was nominal peace, was constantly 
desolated by bands of Scottish marauders. Before the union 

* Palrymple's Appendix to Part IT. Book I. The practice of reckoning 
the population by sects was long fashionable. Gulliver says of the King of 
Brobdignag ; " He laughed at my odd arithmetic, as he was pleased to call it, in 
reckoning the numbers of our people by a computation drawn from the several 
sects among us in religion and politics." 

t Preface to the Population Returns of 1831, 


of the two British crowns, and long after that union, there 
was as great a difference between Middlesex and Northumber- 
land as there now is between Massachusetts and the settlements 
of those squatters who, far to the west of the Mississippi, 
administer a rude justice with the rifle and the dagger. In the 
reign of Charles the Second, the traces left by ages of slaughter 
and pillage were distinctly perceptible, many miles south of the 
Tweed, in the face of the country and in the lawless manners 
of the people. There was still a large class of mosstroopers, 
whose calling was to plunder dwellings and to drive away whole 
herds of cattle. It was found necessary, soon after the Restor- 
ation, to enact laws of great severity for the prevention of these 
outrages. The magistrates of Northumberland and Cumberland 
were authorised to raise bands of armed men for the defence of 
property and order ; and provision was made for meeting the 
expense of these levies by local taxation.* The parishes were 
required to keep bloodhounds for the purpose of hunting the free- 
booters. Many old men who were living in the middle of the 
eighteenth century could well remember the time when those 
ferocious dogs were common. f Yet, even with such auxiliaries, 
it was often found impossible to track the robbers to their 
retreats among the hills and morasses. For the geography of 
that wild country was very imperfectly known. Even after 
the accession of George the Third, the path over the fells from 
Borrowdale to Ravenglas was still a secret carefully kept by 
the dalesmen, some of whom had probably in their youth 
escaped from the pursuit of justice by that road.$ The seats 
of the gentry and the larger farmhouses were fortified. Oxen 
were penned at night beneath the overhanging battlements of 
the residence, which was known by the name of the Peel. 
The inmates slept with arms at their sides. Huge stones and 
boiling water were in readiness to crush and scald the plunderer 
who might venture to assail the little garrison. No traveller 
ventured into that country without making his will. The 

* Statutes 14 Car. II. c. 22. ; 18 & 19 Car. II. c. 3. ; 29 & 30 Car. II. c. 2. 

t Nicholson and Bourne, Discourse on the Ancient State of the Border, 1777. 

+ Gray's Journal of a Tour in the Lakes, Oct. 3, 1769. 


Judges on circuit, with the whole body of barristers, attorneys, 
clerks, and serving men, rode on horseback from Newcastle to 
Carlisle, armed and escorted by a strong guard under the 
command of the Sheriffs. It was necessary to carry provisions ; 
for the country was a wilderness which afforded no supplies. 
The spot where the cavalcade halted to dine, under an immense 
oak, is not yet forgotten. The irregular vigour with which 
criminal justice was administered shocked observers whose lives 
had been passed in more tranquil districts. Juries, animated 
by hatred and by a sense of common danger, convicted house- 
breakers and cattle stealers with the promptitude of a court 
martial in a mutiny ; and the convicts w r ere hurried by scores 
to the gallows.* Within the memory of some whom this gen- 
eration has seen, the sportsman who wandered in pursuit of 
game to the sources of the Tyne found the heaths round Keel- 
dar Castle peopled by a race scarcely less savage than the 
Indians of California, and heard with surprise the half naked 
women chaunting a wild measure, while the men with brandished 
dirks danced a war dance. f 

Slowly and with difficulty peace was established on the 
border. In the train of peace came industry and all the arts 
of life. Meanwhile it was discovered that the regions north 
of the Trent possessed in their coal beds a source of wealth far 
more precious than the gold mines of Peru. It was found that, 
in the neighbourhood of these beds, almost every manufacture 
might be most profitably carried on. A constant stream of 
emigrants began to roll northward. It appeared by the returns 
of 1841 that the ancient archiepiscopal province of York con- 
tained two-sevenths of the population of England. At the 
time of the Revolution that province was believed to contain 
only one seventh of the population X In Lancashire the 
number of inhabitants appear to have increased ninefold, while 

* North's Life of Guildford ; Hutchinson's History of Cumberland, Parish, of 

t See Sir Walter Scott's Journal, Oct. 7, 1827, in his Life by Mr. Loekhart. 

+ Palrymple, Appendix to Part II. Book I. The returns of the hearth money 
lead to nearly the same conclusion. The hearths in the province of York were 
not a sixth of the hearth6 of England. 


in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Northamptonshire it has hardly 

Of the taxation we can speak with more confidence and pre 
cision than of the population. The revenue of England, when 
Charles the Second died, was small, when compared with the 
resources which she even then possessed, or with the sums which 
were raised by the governments of the neighbouring countries 
It had, from the time of the Restoration, been almost constantly 
increasing, yet it was little more than three fourths of: the 
revenue of the United Provinces, and was hardly one fifth of 
the revenue of France. 

The most important head of receipt was the excise, which, 
in the last year of the reign of Charles, produced five hundred 
and eighty-five thousand pounds, clear of all deductions. The 
net proceeds of the customs amounted in the same year to five 
hundred and thirty thousand pounds. These burdens did not 
lie very heavy on the nation. The tax on chimneys, though 
less productive, call forth far louder murmurs. The discontent 
excited by direct imposts is, indeed, almost always out of pro- 
portion to the quantity of money which they bring into the Ex- 
chequer ; and the tax on chimneys was, even among direct im- 
posts, peculiarly odious : for it could be levied only by means 
of domiciliary visits ; and of such visits the English have always 
been impatient to a degree which the people of other countries 
can but faintly conceive. The poorer householders were fre- 
quently unable to pay their hearth money to the day. When 
this happened, their furniture was distrained without mercy : 
for the tax was farmed ; and a farmer of taxes is, of all credit- 
ors, proverbially the most rapacious. The collectors were loudly 
accused of performing their unpopular duty with harshness and 
insolence. It was said that, as soon as they appeared at the 
threshold of a cottage, the children began to wail, and the old 
women ran to hide their earthenware. Nay, the single bed of a 

* I do not, of course, pretend to strict accuracy here ; but I believe that who- 
ever will take the trouble to compare the last returns of hearth money in the 
reign of William the Third with the census of 1841, will come to a conclusion 
not very different from mine. 


fc )Oor family had sometimes been carried away and sold. The 
net annual receipt from this tax was two hundred thousand 

When to the three great sources of income which have been 
* mentioned we add the royal domains, then far more extensive 
than at present, the first fruits and tenths, which had not yet 
been surrendered to the Church, the Duchies of Cornwall and 
Lancaster, the forfeitures, and the fines, we shall find that the 
whole annual revenue of the crown may be fairly estimated at 
about fourteen hundred thousand pounds. Of this revenue part 
was hereditary ; the rest had been granted to Charles for life ; 
and he was at liberty to lay out the whole exactly as he thought 
fit. Whatever he could save by retrenching from the expend- 
iture of the public departments was an addition to his privy 
purse. Of the Post Office more will hereafter be said. The 
profits of that establishment had been appropriated by Parliament 
to the Duke of York. 

The King's revenue was, or rather ought to have been, 
charged with the payment of about eighty thousand pounds a 
year, the interest of the sum fraudulently detained in the Ex- 
chequer by the Cabal. While Danby was at the head of the 
finances, the creditors had received dividends, though not with 
the strict punctuality of modern times : but those who had suc- 

* There are in the Pepysian Library some ballads of that age on the chimney 
money. I will give a specimen or two : — 

M The good old dames, -whenever they the chimney man espied, 
Unto their nooks they haste away, their pots and pipkins hide. 
There is not one old dame in ten, and search the nation through, 
But, if you talk of chimney men, will spare a curse or two." 

Again : 

" Like plundering soldiers they'd enter the door, 
And make a distress on the goods of the poor, 
While frighted poo<" children distractedly cried ; 
This nothing abated their insolent pride." 

In the British Museum there are doggrel verses composed on the same subjeo* 
and in the same spirit : 

" Or, if through poverty it be not paid 

For cruelty to tear away the single bed, 

On which the poor man rests his weary head, 

At once deprives him of his rest and bread." 

I take this opportunity, the first which occurs, of acknowledging most gratefully 
the kind and liberal manner in which the Master and Vicemaster of Magdalen 
College, Cambridge, gave me access to the valuable collections of Pepys. 


ceeded him at the treasury had been less expert, or less solicit- 
ous to maintain public faith. Since the victory won by the 
court over the Whigs, not a farthing had been paid ; and no 
redress was granted to the sufferers, till a new dynasty had 
been many years on the throne. There can be no greater error 
than to imagine that the device of meeting the exigencies of the 
state by loans was imported into our island by William the 
Third. What really dates from his reign is not the system of 
borrowing, but the system of funding. From a period of im- 
memorable antiquity it had been the practice of every English 
government to contract debts. What the Revolution introduced 
was the practice of honestly paying them.* 

By plundering the public creditor, it was possible to make 
an income of about fourteen hundred thousand pounds, with 
some occasional help from Versailles, support the necessary 
charges of the government and the wasteful expenditure of the 
court. For that load which pressed most heavily on the finances 
of the great continental states was here scarcely felt. In 
France, Germany, and the Netherlands, armies, such as Henry 
the Fourth and Philip the Second had never employed in time 
of war, were kept up in the midst of peace. Bastions and 
ravelins were everywhere rising, constructed on principles 
unknown to Parma and Spinola. Stores of artillery and ammu- 
nition were accumulated, such as even Richelieu, whom the 
preceding generation had regarded as a worker of prodigies, 
would have pronounced fabulous. No man could journey many 
leagues in those countries without hearing the drums of a rem- 
ment on march, or being challenged by the sentinels on the 
drawbridge of a fortress. In our island, on the contrary, it was 
possible to live long and to travel far without being once 
reminded, by any martial sight or sound, that the defence of 
nations had become a science and a calling. The majority of 
Englishmen who were under twentv-five years of a^e had prob- 
ably never seen a company of regular soldiers. Of the cities 
which, in the civil war, had valiantly repelled hostile armies, 

* My chief authorities for this financial statement will be found in the Com- 
mons' Journal, March 1, and March 20, 1688-9. 


scarcely one was now capable of sustaining a siege. The gates 
stood open night and day. The ditches were dry. The ram- 
parts had been suffered to fall into decay, or were repaired only 
that the townsfolk might have a pleasant walk on summei 
evenings. Of the old baronial keeps many had been shattered 
by the cannon of Fairfax and Cromwell, and lay in heaps of 
ruin, overgrown with ivy. Those which remained had lost their 
martial character, and were now rural palaces of the aristocracy. 
The moats were turned into preserves of carp and pike. The 
mounds were planted with fragrant shrubs, through which 
spiral walks ran up to summer houses adorned with mirrors and 
paintings.* On the capes of the sea coast, and on many inland 
hills, were still seen tall posts, surmounted by barrels. Once 
those barrels had been filled with pitch. Watchmen had been 
set round them in seasons of danger ; and, within a few hours 
after a Spanish sail had been discovered in the Channel, or after 
a thousand Scottish mosstroopers had crossed the Tweed, the 
signal fires were blazing fifty miles off, and whole counties 
were rising in arms. But many years had now elapsed since 
thy beacons had been lighted ; and they were regarded rather 
as curious relics of ancient manners than as parts of a machinery 
necessary to the safety of the state. f 

The only army which the law recognised was the militia. 
That force had been remodelled by two Acts of Parliament, 
passed shortly after the Restoration. Every man who possessed 
five hundred pounds a year derived from land, or six thousand 
pounds of personal estate, was bound to provide, equip, and pay, 
at his own charge, one horseman. Every man who had fifty 
pounds a year derived from land, or six hundred pounds of 
personal estate, was charged in like manner with one pikeman 
or musketeer. Smaller proprietors were joined together in a 
kind of society, for which our language does not afford a special 
name, but which an Athenian would have called a Synteleia ; 
and each society was required to furnish, according to its means, 

* See, for example, the picture of the mound at Marlborough, in Stukeley'3 
Itinerariuni Curiosum. 

+ Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684. 


a horse soldier or a foot soldier. The whole number of cavalry 
and infantry thus maintained was popularly estimated at a 
hundred and thirty thousand men.* 

The King was, by the ancient constitution of the realm, and 
by the recent and solemn acknowledgment of both Houses of 
Parliament, the sole Captain General of this large force. The 
Lords Lieutenants and their Deputies held the command under 
him, and appointed meetings for drilling and inspection. The 
time occupied by such meetings, however, was not to exceed 
fourteen days in one year. The Justices of the Peace were 
authorised to inflict severe penalties for breaches of discipline. 
Of the ordinary cost no part was paid by the crown : but when 
the trainbands were called out against an enemy, their sub- 
sistence became a charge on the general revenue of the state, 
and they were subject to the utmost rigour of martial law. 

There were those who looked on the militia with no friendly 
eye. Men who had travelled much on the Continent, who had 
marvelled at the stern precision with which every sentinel 
moved and spoke in the citadels built by Vauban, who had seen 
the mighty armies which poured along all the roads of Germany 
to chase the Ottoman from the Gates of Vienna, and who had 
been dazzled by the well ordered pomp of the household troops 
of Lewis, sneered much at the way in which the peasants of 
Devonshire and Yorkshire marched and wheeled, shouldered 
muskets and ported pikes. The enemies of the liberties and 
religion of England looked with aversion on a force which could 
not, without extreme risk, be employed against those liberties 
and that religion, and missed no opportunity of throwing rid- 
icule on the rustic soldiery. f Enlightened patriots, when they 

* 13 and 14 Car. II. c. 3 ; 15 Car. II. c. 4. Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684. 

t Dryden, in his Cymon and Iphigenia, expressed, with his usual keenness and 
energy, the sentiments which had been fashionable among the sycophants of 
James the Second : — 

" The country rings around with loud alarms, 
And raw in fields the rude militia swarms ; 
Mouths without hands, maintained at vast expense, 
In peace a charge, in war a weak defence. 
Stout once a month they mireh, a blustering band, 
And ever, hut in time of need, at hand. 
This was the morn when, issuing on the guard, 
Drawn up in rank and file, they stood prepared 
Of seeming arms to make a short essay. 
Then hasten to be drunk, the business of the day." 


contrasted these rude levies with the battalions which, in time 
of war, a few hours might bring to the coast of Kent or Sussex, 
were forced to acknowledge that, dangerous as it might be to 
keep up a permanent military establishment, it might be more 
dangerous still to stake the honour and independence of the 
country on the result of a contest between plowmen officered by 
Justices of the Peace, and veteran warriors led by Marshals of 
France. In Parliament, however, it was necessary to express 
such opinions with some reserve ; for the militia was an institu- 
tion eminently popular. Every reflection thrown on it excited 
the indignation of both the great parties in the state, and espe- 
cially of that party which was distinguished by peculiar zeal for 
monarchy and for the Anglican Church. The array of the 
counties was commanded almost exclusively by Tory noblemen 
and gentlemen. They were proud of their military rank, and 
considered an insult offered to the service to which they be- 
longed as offered to themselves. They were also perfectly 
aware that whatever was said asrainst a militia was said in 
favour of a standing army ; and the name of standing army was 
hateful to them. One such army had held dominion in Eng- 
land ; and under that dominion the King had been murdered, 
the nobility degraded, the landed gentry plundered, the Church 
persecuted. There was scarcely a rural grandee who could not 
tell a story of wrongs and insults suffered by himself, or by his 
father, at the hands of the parliamentary soldiers. One old 
Cavalier had seen half his manor house blown up. The hered- 
itary elms of another had been hewn down. A third could 
never go into his parish church without being reminded by the 
defaced scutcheons and headless statues of his ancestry, that 
Oliver's redcoats had once stabled their horses there. The 
consequence was that those very Royalists, who were most 
ready to fight for the King themselves, were the last persons 
whom he could venture to ask for the means of hiring regular 

Charles, however, had, a few months after his restoration, 
begun to form a small standing army. He felt that, without 
some better protection than that of the trainbands and beef- 


eaters, his palace and person would hardly be* secure, in the 
vicinity of a great city swarming with warlike Fifth Monarchy 
men who had just been disbanded. lie therefore, careless and 
profuse as he was, contrived to spare from his pleasures a sum 
sufficient to keep up a body of guards. With the increase of 
trade and of public wealth his revenues increased ; and he was 
thus enabled, in spite of the occasional murmurs of the Com- 
mons, to make gradual additions to his regular forces. One 
considerable addition was made a few months before the close 
of his reign. The costly, useless, and pestilential settlement of 
Tangier was abandoned to the barbarians who dwelt around it ; 
and the garrison, consisting of one regiment of horse and two 
regiments of foot, was brought to England. 

The little army formed by Charles the Second was the germ 
of that great and renowned army which has, in the present cen- 
tury, marched triumphant into Madrid and Paris, into Canton 
and Candahar. The Life Guards, who now form two regiments, 
were then distributed into three troops, each of which consisted 
of two hundred carabineers, exclusive of officers. This corps, 
to which the safety of the King and royal family was confided, 
had a very peculiar character. Even the privates were desig- 
nated as gentlemen of the Guard. Many of them were of good 
families, and had held commissions in the civil war. Their pay 
was far higher than that of the most favoured regiment of our 
time, and would in that age have been thought a respectable 
provision for the younger son of a country squire. Their fine 
horses, their rich housings, their cuirasses, and their buff coats 
adorned with ribands, velvet, and gold lace, made a splendid 
appearance in Saint James's Park. A small body of grenadier 
dragoons, who came from a lower class and received lower pay, 
was attached to each troop. Another body of household cav- 
alry distinguished by blue coats and cloaks, and still called the 
Blues, was generally quartered in the neighbourhood of the cap- 
ital. Near the capital lay also the corps which is now desig- 
nated as the first regiment of dragoons, but which was then 
the only regiment of dragoons on the English establishment. 
It had recently been formed out of the cavalry which had 
returned from Tangier. A single troop of dragoons, which 


did not form part of any regiment, was stationed near Berwick, 
for the purpose of keeping the peace among the mosstroopers 
of the border. For this species of service the dragoon was 
then thought to be peculiarly qualified. He has since become 
a mere horse soldier. But in the seventeenth century he was 
accurately described by Montecuculi as a foot soldier who used 
a horse only in order to arrive with more speed at the place 
where military service was to be performed. 

The household infantry consisted of two regiments, which 
were then, as now, called the first regiment of Foot Guards, and 
the Coldstream Guards. They generally did duty near White- 
hall and Saint James's Palace. As there were then no barracks, 
and as, by the Petition of Right, it had been declared unlawful 
to quarter soldiers on private families, the redcoats filled all the 
alehouses of Westminster and the Strand. 

There were five other regiments of foot. One of these, 
called the Admiral's Regiment, was especially destined to service 
on board of the fleet. The remaining four still rank as the first 
four regiments of the line. Two of these represented two 
brigades which had long sustained on the Continent the fame of 
British valour. The first, or Royal regiment, had, under the 
great Gustavus, borne a conspicuous part in the deliverance 
of Germany. The third regiment, distinguished by fleshcoloured 
facings, from which it had derived the well known name of the 
Buffs, had, under Maurice of Nassau, fought not less bravely 
for the deliverance of the Netherlands. Both these gallant 
bands had at length, after many vicissitudes, been recalled from 
foreign service by Charles the Second, and had been placed on 
the English establishment. 

The regiments which now rank as the second and fourth of 
the line had, in 1685, just returned from Tangier, bringing with 
them cruel and licentious habits contracted in a long course of 
warfare with the Moors. A few companies of infantry which 
had not been regimented lay in garrison at Tilbury Fort, at 
Portsmouth, at Plymouth, and at some other important stations 
on or near the coast. 

Since the beginning of the seventeenth century a great change 


had taken place in the arms of the infantry. The pike had 
been gradually giving place to the musket ; and, at the close of 
the reign of Charles the Second, most of his foot were muske- 
teers. Still, however, there was a large intermixture of pike- 
men. Each class of troops was occasionally instructed in the 
use of the weapon .which peculiarly belonged to the other class. 
Every foot soldier had at his side a sword for close fight. The 
musketeer was generally provided with a weapon which had, 
during many years, been gradually coming into use, and which 
the English then called a dagger, but which, from the time of 
William the Third, has been known among us by the French 
name of bayonet. The bayonet seems not to have been then so 
formidable an instrument of destruction as it has since become ; 
for it was inserted in the muzzle of the gun ; and in action much 
time was lost while the soldier unfixed his bayonet in order to 
fire, and fixed it again in order to charge. The dragoon, when 
dismounted, fought as a musketeer. 

The regular army which was kept up in England at the be- 
ginning of the year 1 685 consisted, all ranks included, of about 
seven thousand foot, and about seventeen hundred cavalry and 
dragoons. The whole charge amounted to about two hundred 
and ninety thousand pounds a year, less then a tenth part 
of what the military establishment of France then cost in time 
of peace. The daily pay of a private in the Life Guards was 
four shillings, in the Blues two shillings and sixpence, in the 
Dragoons eighteen pence, in the Foot Guards tenpence, and in 
the line eightpence. The discipline was lax, and indeed could 
not be otherwise. The common law of England knew nothing 
of courts martial, and made no distinction, in time of peace, be- 
tween a soldier and any other subject ; nor could the govern- 
ment then venture to ask even the most loyal Parliament for a 
Mutiny Bill. A soldier, therefore, by knocking down his 
colonel, incurred only the ordinary penalties of assault and bat- 
tery, and by refusing to obey orders, by sleeping on guard, or 
by deserting his colours, incurred no legal penalty at all. Mili- 
tary punishments were doubtless inflicted during the reign of 
Charles the Second ; but they were inflicted very sparingly, and 


in such a manner as not to attract public notice, or to produce 
an appeal to the courts of Westminster Hall. 

Such an army as has been described was not very likely to 
enslave five millions of Englishmen. It would indeed have 
been unable to suppress an insurrection in London, if the train- 
bands of the City had joined the insurgents. Nor could the^ 
King expect that, if a rising took place in England, he would 
obtain effectual help from his other dominions. For, though 
both Scotland and Ireland supported separate military estab- 
lishments, those establishments were not more than sufficient to 
keep down the Puritan malecontents of the former king- 
dom and the Popish malecontents of the latter. The gov- 
ernment had. however, an important military resource which 
must not be left unnoticed. There were in the pay of the 
United Provinces six fine regiments, of which three had been 
raised in England and three in Scotland. Their native prince 
had reserved to himself the power of recalling them, if he 
needed their help against a foreign or domestic enemy. In the 
meantime they were maintained without any charge to him, 
and were kept under an excellent discipline, to which he could 
not have ventured to subject them.* 

If the jealousy of the Parliament and of the nation made 
it impossible for the King to maintain a formidable standing 
army, no similar impediment prevented him from making Eng- 
land the first of maritime powers. Both Whigs and Tories 
were ready to applaud every step tending to increase the effi- 
ciency of that force which, while it was the best protection of 
the island against foreign enemies, was powerless against civil 
liberty. All the greatest exploits achieved within the memory 
of that generation by English soldiers had been achieved in 
war against English princes. The victories of our sailors had 
been won over foreign foes, and had averted havoc and rapine 

* Most of the materials which I have used for this account of the regular 
army will be found in the Historical Records of Regiments, published by com- 
mand of King William the Fourth, and under the direction of the Adjutant 
General. See also Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684 ; Abridgment of the 
English Military Discipline, printed by especial command, 1685 ; Exercise of 
Foot, by their Majesties' command, 1690. 



from our own soil. By at least half the nation the battle of 
Kaseby was remembered with horror, and the battle of Dunbar 
with pride chequered by many painful feelings : but the defeat 
of the Armada, and the encounters of Blake with the Holland-, 
ers and Spaniards were recollected with unmixed exultation by 
all parties. Ever since the Restoration, the Commons, even 
when most discontented and most parsimonious, had always 
been bountiful to profusion where the interest of the navy was 
concerned. It had been represented to them, while Danby was 
minister, that many of the vessels in the royal fleet were old 
and unfit for sea ; and, although the House was, at that time, 
in no giving mood, an aid of near six hundred thousand pounds 
had been granted for the building of thirty new men of war. 

But the liberality of the nation had been made fruitless by 
the vices of the government. The list of the King's ships, it 
is true, looked well. There were nine first rates, fourteen sec- 
ond rates, thirty-nine third rates, and many smaller vessels. 
The first rates, indeed, were less than the third rates of our 
time ; and the third rates would not now rank as very large 
frigates. This force, however, if it had been efficient, would 
in- those days have been regarded by the greatest potentate as 
formidable. But it existed only on paper. When the reign of 
Charles terminated, his navy had sunk into degradation and 
decay, such as would be almost incredible if it were not cer- 
tified to us by the independent and concurring evidence of wit- 
nesses whose authority is beyond exception. Pepvs, the ablest 
man in the English Admiralty, drew up, in the year 1684, a 
memorial on the state of his department, for the information of 
Charles. A few months later Bonrepaux, the ablest man in 
the French Admiralty, having visited England for the especial 
purpose of ascertaining her maritime strength, laid the result 
of his inquiries before Lewis. The two reports are to the same 
effect. Bonrepaux declared that he found everything in dis- 
order and in miserable condition, that the superiority of the 
French marine was acknowledged with shame and eir y at 
Whitehall, and that the state of our shipping and dockyards 
was of itself a sufficient guarantee that we should not meddle in 


the disputes of Europe. * Pepys informed his master that the 
naval administration was a prodigy of wastefulness, corruption, 
ignorance, and indolence, that no estimate could be trusted, 
that no contract was performed, that no check was enforced. 
The vessels which the recent liberality of Parliament had en- 
abled the government to build, and which had never been out 
of harbour, had been made of such wretched timber that they 
were more unfit to go to sea than the old hulls which had been 
battered thirty years before by Dutch and Spanish broadsides. 
Some of the new men of war, indeed, were so rotten that, un- 
less speedily repaired, they would go down at their moorings. 
The sailors were paid with so little punctuality that they were 
glad to find some usurer who would purchase their tickets at 
forty per cent, discount. The commanders who had not power- 
ful friends at court were even worse treated. Some officers, to 
whom large arrears were due. after vainly importuning the gov- 
ernment during many years, had died for want of a morsel of 

Most of the ships which were afloat were commanded by men 
who had not been bred to the sea. This, it is true, was not an 
abuse introduced by the government of Charles. No state, an- 
cient or modern, had, before that time, made a complete separa- 
tion between the naval and military servicer. In the great civ- 
ilised nations of antiquity, Cimon and Lysander, Pompey and 
Agrippa. had fought battles by sea as well as by land. Nor had 
the impulse which nautical science received at the close of 
the fifteenth century produced any new division of labour. 
At Flodden the right wing of the victorious army was led by 
the Admiral of England. At Jarnac and Moncontour the 
Huguenot ranks were marshalled by the Admiral of France. 
Neither John of Austria, the conqueror of Lepanto, nor Lord 


* I refer to a despatch of Bonrepaux to Seignelay, dated Feb. %j- 1686. It was 
transcribed for Mr. Fox from the French archives, during the peace of Amiens, 
and, with the other materials brought together by that great man, was entrusted 
to me by the kindness of the late Lady Holland, and of the present Lord Hol- 
land. I ought to add that, even in the midst of the troubles which have lately 
agitated Paris, T found no difficulty in obtaining, from the liberality of the func- 
tionaries there, extracts supplying some chasms in Mr. Fox's collection. (1848.) 


Howard of Effingham, to whose direction the marine of England 
was confided when the Spanish invaders were approaching our 
shores, had received the education of a sailor. Raleigh, highly 
celebrated as a naval commander, had served during many years 
as a soldier in France, the Netherlands, and Ireland. Blake had 
distinguished himself by his skilful and valiant defence of an 
inland town before he humbled the pride of Holland and of Cas- 
tile on the ocean. Since the Restoration the same system had 
been followed. Great fleets had been entrusted to the direction 
of Rupert and Monk ; Rupert, who was renowned chiefly as a 
hot and daring cavalry officer, and Monk, who, when he wished 
his ship to change her course, moved the mirth of his crew by 
calling out, " Wheel to the left ! " 

But about this time wise men began to perceive that the 
rapid improvement, both of the art of war and of the art cf nav- 
igation, made it necessary to draw a line between two profes- 
sions which had hitherto been confounded. Either the command 
of a regiment or the command of a ship was now a matter quite 
sufficient to occupy the attention of a single mind. In the year 
1672 the French government determined to educate young men 
of good family from a very early age especially for the sea ser- 
vice. But the; English governiment, instead of folio wing this 
excellent example, not only continued to distribute high naval 
commands among landsmen, but selected for such commands 
landsmen who, even on land, could not safely have been put in 
any important trust. Any lad of noble birth, any dissolute 
courtier for whom one of the King's mistresses would speak a 
word, might hope that a ship of the line, and with it the honour 
of the country and the lives of hundreds of brave men, would 
be committed to his care. It mattered not that he had never in 
his life taken a voyage except on the Thames, that he could not 
keep his feet in a breeze, that he did not know the difference 
between latitude and longitude. No previous training was 
thought necessary ; or, at most, he was sent to make a short 
trip in a man of war, where he was subjected to no discipline, 
where he was treated with marked respect, and where he lived 
in a round of revels and amusements. If, in the intervals of 

^ STATE OF ENGLAND IN 1685. 277 

feasting, drinking, and gambling, he succeeded in learning the 
meaning of a few technical phrases and the names of the points 
of the compass, he was thought fully qualified to take charge of 
a three-decker. This is no imaginary description. In 1G66, 
John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, at seventeen years of age, vol- 
unteered to serve at sea against the Dutch. He passed six 
weeks on board, diverting himself, as well as he could, in the 
society of some young libertines of rank, and then returned 
home to take the command of a troop of horse. After this he 
was never on the water till the year 1672, when he again joined 
the fleet, and was almost immediately appointed Captain of a 
ship of eighty-four guns, reputed the finest in the navy. He 
was then twenty-three years old, and had not, in the whole 
course of his life, been three months afloat. As soon as he came 
back from sea he was made Colonel of a regiment of foot. 
This is a specimen of the manner in which naval commands of 
the highest importance were then given ; and a very favour- 
able specimen ; for Mulgrave, though he wanted experience, 
wanted neither parts nor courage. Others were promoted in the 
same way who not only were not good officers, but who were 
intellectually and morally incapable of ever becoming good offi- 
cers, and whose only recommendation was that they had been 
ruined by folly and vice. The chief bait which allured these 
men into the service was the profit of conveying bullion and 
other valuable commodities from port to port ; for both the 
Atlantic and the Mediterranean were then so much infested by 
pirates from Barbary that merchants were not willing to trust 
precious cargoes to any custody but that of a man of war. A 
Captain might thus clear several thousands of pounds by a short 
voyage ; and for this lucrative business he too often neglected 
the interests of his country and the honour of his flas", made 
mean submissions to foreign powers, disobeyed the most direct 
injunctions of his superiors, lay in port when he was ordered to 
chase a Sallee rover, or ran with dollars to Leghorn when his 
instructions directed him to repair to Lisbon. And all this he 
did with impunity. The same interest which had placed him in a 
post for which he was unfit maintained him there. No Admiral, 


bearded by these corrupt and dissolute minions of the palace, 
dared to do more than mutter something about a court martial. 
If any officer showed a higher sense of duty than his fellows, 
he soon found out he lost money without acquiring honor. 
One Captain, who, by strictly obeying the orders of the Admi- 
ralty, missed a cargo which would have been w T orth four thou- 
sand pounds to him, was told by Charles, with ignoble levity, 
that he was a great fool for his pains. 

The discipline of the navy was of a piece throughout. As 
the courtly Captain despised the Admiralty, he was in turn 
despised by his crew. It could not be concealed that he was 
inferior in seamanship to every foremast man on board. It was 
idle to expect that old sailors, familiar with the hurricanes of 
the tropics and with the icebergs of the Arctic. Circle, would 
pay prompt and respectful obedience to a chief who knew no 
more of winds and waves than could be learned in a gilded 
barge between Whitehall Stairs and Hampton Court. To trust 
such a novice with the working of a ship was evidently impos- 
sible. The direction of the navigation was therefore taken 
from the Captain and given to the Master; but this partition 
of authority produced innumerable inconveniences. The line 
of demarcation was not, and perhaps could not be, drawn with 
precision. There was therefore constant wrangling. The Cap- 
tain, confident in proportion to his ignorance, treated the 
Master with lordly contempt. The Master, well aware of the 
danger of disobliging the powerful, too often, after a struggle, 
yielded against his better judgment; and it was well if the 
loss of ship and crew was not the consequence. In general the 
least mischievous of the aristocratical Captains were those who 
completely abandoned to others the direction of the vessels, 
and thought only of making money and spending it. The 
way in which these men lived was so ostentatious and voluptu- 
ous that, greedy as they were of gain, they seldom became 
rich. They dressed as if for a gala at Versailles, ate off plate, 
drank the richest wines, and kept harems on board, while 
hunger and scurvy raged among the crews, and while corpses 
were daily flung out of the portholes. 


Such was the ordinary character of those who were then 
c: tiled gentlemen Captains. Mingled with them were to be 
found, happily for our country, naval commanders of a very 
different description, men whose whole life had been passed on 
the deep, and who had worked and fought their way from the 
lowest offices of the forecastle to rank and distinction. One of the 
most eminent of these officers was Sir Christopher Mings, who 
entered the service as a cabin boy, who fell fighting bravely 
against the Dutch, and whom his crew, weeping and vowing 
vengeance, carried to the grave From him sprang, by a singu- 
lar kind of descent, a line of valiant and expert sailors. His 
cabin boy was Sir John Narborough ; and the cabin boy of Sir 
John Narborough was Sir Cloudesley Shovel. To the strong 
natural sense and dauntless courage of this class of men Eng- 
land owes a debt never to be forgotten. It was by such reso- 
lute hearts that, in spite of much maladministration, and in 
spi.e of the blunders and treasons of more courtly admirals, our 
coasts were protected and the reputation of our flag upheld dur- 
ing many gloomy and perilous years. But to a landsman these 
tarpaulins, as they were called, seemed a strange and half 
savage race. Ail their knowledge was professional ; and their 
professional knowledge was practical rather than scientific. Off 
their own element they were as simple as children. • Their de- 
portment was uncouth. There was roughness in their very 
good nature ; and their talk, where it was not made up of 
nautical phrases, was too commonly made up of oaths and 
curses. Such were the chiefs in whose rude school were formed 
those sturdy warriors from whom Smollett, in the next age, 
drew Lieutenant Bowling and Commodore Trunnion. But it 
does not appear that there was in the service of any of the 
Stuarts a single naval officer such as, according to the notions 
oi our times, a naval officer ought to be, that is to say, a man J 
versed in the theory and practice of his calling, and steeled 
against all the dangers of battle and tempest, yet of cultivated 
mind and polished manners. There were gentlemen and there 
were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the sea- 
men were not gentlemen ; and the gentlemen were not seamen. 


The English navy at that time might, according to the most 
exact estimates which have come down to us, have been kept in 
an efficient state for three hundred and eighty thousand pounds 
a year. Four hundred thousand pounds a year was the sum 
actually expended, but expended, as we have seen, to very little 
purpose. The cost of the French marine was nearly the same ; 
the cost of the Dutch marine considerably more.* 

The charge of the English ordnance in the seventeeth cen- 
tury was, as compared with other military and naval charges, 
much smaller than at present. At most of the garrisons there 
were gunners : and here and there, at an important post, an en- 
gineer was to be found. But there was no regiment of artillery, 
no brigade of sappers and miners, no college in which young 
soldiers could learn the scientific part of the art of war. The 
difficulty of moving field pieces was extreme. When, a few 
years later, William marched from Devonshire to London, the 
apparatus which he brought with him, though such as had long 
been in constant use on the Continent, aud such as would now 
be regarded at Woolwich as rude and cumbrous, excited in our 
ancestors an admiration resembling that which the Indians of 
America felt for the Castilian harquebusses. The stock of gun- 
powder kept in the English forts and arsenals was boastfully 
mentioned by patriotic writers as something which might well 
impress neighbouring nations with awe. It amounted to four- 
teen or fifteen thousand barrels, about a twelfth of the quantity 
which it is now thought necessary to have in store. The expen- 
diture under the head of ordnance was on an average a little 
above sixty thousand pounds a year.f 

* My information respecting the condition of the navy, at this time, is chiefly 
derived from Pepys. His report, presented to Charles the Second in May, 1684, 
has never, I helieve, heen printed. The manuscript is at Magdalene College, 
Cambridge. At Magdalene College is also a valuable manuscript containing a 
detailed account of the maritime establishments of the country in December, 
1684. Pepys's " Memoirs relating to the State of the Royal Navy for Ten Years, 
determined December, 1688," and his diary and correspondence during his mis- 
sion to Tangier, are in print. I have made large use of them. See also Shef- 
field's Memoirs, Teonge's Diary, Aubrey's Life of Monk, the Life of Sir Cloudes- 
ley Shovel, 1708, Commons' Journals. Mar^h 1 and March 20, 1688-9. 

t Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684 ; Commons* Journals, March 1, and 


The whole effective charge of the army, navy, and ordnance, 
was about seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds. The non- 
effective charge, which is now a heavy part of our public bur- 
dens, can hardly be said to have existed. A very small number 
of naval officers, who were not employed in the public service, 
fdrew half pay. No Lieutenant was on the list, nor any Captain 
who had not commanded a ship of the first or second rate. As 
the country then possessed only seventeen ships of the first and 
second rate that had ever been at sea, and as a large proportion 
of the persons who had commanded such ships had good posts 
on shore, the expenditure under this head must have been small 
indeed.* In the army, half pay was given merely as a special 
and temporary allowance to a small number of officers belong- 
ing to two regiments, which were peculiarly situated.f Green- 
wich Hospital had not been founded. Chelsea Hospital was 
building : but the cost of that institution was defrayed partly by 
a deduction from the pay of the troops, and partly by private 
subscription. The King promised to contribute only twenty 
thousand pounds for architectural expenses, and five thousand a 
year for the maintenance of the invalids. J It was no part of 
the plan that there should be outpensioners. The whole non- 
effective charge, military and naval, can scarcely have exceeded 
ten thousaud pounds a year. It now exceeds ten thousand 
pounds a day. 

Of the expense of civil government only a small portion 
was defrayed by the crown. The great majority of the func- 
tionaries whose business was to administer justice and preserve 
order either gave their services to the public gratuitously, or 
were remunerated in a manner which caused no drain on the 
revenue of the state. The Sheriffs, mayors, and aldermen of 
the towns, the country gentlemen who were in the commission 

March 20, 1688-9- In 1833, it was determined, after full enquiry, that a hundred 
and seventy thousand barrels of gunpowder should constantly be kept in store. 

* It appears from the records of the Admiralty, that Flag officers were allowed 
half pay in 1G68, Captains of first and second rates not till 1G74. 

t Warrant in the War Office Records,, dated March 26, 1678. 

+ Evelyn's Diary. Jan. 27, 1682. I have seen a privy seal, datad May 17. 1683, 
which confirms Evelyn's testimony. 


of the peace, the headboroughs, bailiffs, and petty constables, 
cost the King nothing. The superior courts of law were 
chiefly supported by fees. 

Our relations with foreign courts had been put on the most 
economical footing. The only diplomatic agent who had the 
title of Ambassador resided at Constantinople, and was partly 
supported by the Turkish Company. Even at the court of 
Versailles England had only an Envoy ; and she had not even 
an Envoy at the Spanish, Swedish, and Danish courts. The 
whole expense under this head cannot, in the last year of the 
reign of Charles the Second, have much exceeded twenty 
thousand pounds.* 

In this frugality there was nothing laudable. Charles was, 
as usual, niggardly in the wrong place, and munificent in the 
wrong place. The public service was starved that courtiers 
might be pampered. The expense of the navj T , of the ordnance, 
of pensions to needy old officers, of missions to foreign courts, 
must seem small indeed to the present generation. But the 
personal favourites of the sovereign, his ministers, and the 
creatures of those ministers, were gorged with public money. 
Their salaries and pensions, when compared with the incomes 
of the nobility, the gentry, the commercial and professional 
men of that age, will appear enormous. The greatest estates 
in the kingdom then very little exceeded twenty thousand a 
year. The Duke of Ormond had twenty-two thousand a year.f 
The Duke of Buckingham, before his extravagance had im- 
paired his great property, had nineteen thousand six hundred a 
year.J George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, who had been re- 
warded for his eminent services with immense grants of crown 
land, and who had been notorious both for covetousness and for 
parsimony, left fifteen thousand a year of real estate, and sixty 
thousand pounds in money which probably yielded seven per 

* James the Second sent Envoys to Spain, Sweden, and Denmark ; yet in his 
reign the diplomatic expenditure was little more than 30,000'. a year. Seeth) 
Commons' Journals, March 20, 1688-9. Chamberlayne's State of England, 1CS4, 

t Carte's Life of Ormond. 

t Pepys's Diary, Feb. 14, 1668-9. 


cent.* These three Dukes were supposed to be three of the 
very richest subjects in England. The Archbishop of Canter- 
bury can hardly have had five thousand a year.f The average 
income of a temporal peer was estimated, by the best informed 
persons, at about three thousand a year, the average income of 
a baronet at nine hundred a year, the average income of a 
member of the House of Commons at less than eiudit hun- 
dred a year.$ A thousand a year was thought a large revenue 
for a barrister. Two thousand a year was hardly to be made 
in the Court of King's Bench, except by the crown lawyers. § 
It is evident, therefore, that an official man would have been 
well paid if he had received a fourth or fifth part of what 
would now be an adequate stipend. In fact, however, the 
stipends of the higher class of official men were as large as at 
present, and not seldom larger. The Lord Treasurer, for ex- 
ample, had eight thousand a year, and, when the Treasury was in 
commission, the junior Lords had sixteen hundred a year each. 
The Paymaster of the Forces had a poundage, amounting, in 
time of peace, to about five thousand a year, on all the money 
which passed through his hands. The Groom of the Stole had 
five thousand a year, the Commissioners of the Customs twelve 
hundred a year each, the Lords of the Bedchamber a thousand 
a year each.|| The regular salary, however, was the smallest 
part of the gains of an official man at that age. From the 
noblemen who held the white staff and the great seal, down to 
the humblest tidewaiter and gauger, what would now be called 
gross corruption was practised without disguise and without 

* See the Report of the Bath and Montague case, which was decided by Lord 
Keeper Somers, in December, 1693. 

t During three quarters of a year, beginning from Christmas, 1689, the reve- 
nues of the see of Canterbury were received by an officer appointed by the 
crown. Tha* officer's accounts are now in the British Museum. (Lansdowne 
MRS. 885.) The gross revenue for the three quarters was not quite four thousand 
pounds ; and the difference between the gross and the net revenue was evidently 
something considerable. 

+ King's Natural and Political Conclusions. Dfvenant on the Balance of 
Trade. Sir W. Temple says, " The revenues of a House of Commons have sel- 
dom exceeded four hundred thousand pounds." Memoirs. Third Part. 

§ Langton's Conversations with Chief Justice Hale, 1672. 

|| Commons' Journals, April 27, 1689 ; Chamberlayue's State of England, 1G81. 


reproach. Titles, places, commissions, pardons, were daily sold 
in market overt by the great dignitaries of the realm ; and 
every clerk in every department imitated, to the best of his 
power, the evil example. 

During the last century no prime minister, however power- 
ful, has become rich in office ; and several prime ministers have 
impaired their private fortune in sustaining their public charac- 
ter. In the seventeenth century, a statesman who was at the 
head of affairs might easily, and without giving scandal, accu- 
mulate in no long time an estate amply sufficient to support a 
dukedom. It is probable that the income of the prime minis- 
ter, during his tenure of power, far exceeded that of any other 
subject. The place of Lord Lieuteuant of Ireland was popu- 
larly reported to be worth forty thousand pounds a year.* The 
gains of the Chancellor Clarendon, of Arlington, of Lauderdale, 
and of Danny , were certainly enormous. The sumptuous palace 
to wdiich the populace of London gave the name of Dunkirk 
House, the stately pavilions, the fishponds, the deer park and 
the orangery of Euston, the more than Italian luxury of Ham, 
■with its busts, fountains, and aviaries, were among the many 
sijjns which indicated what was the shortest road to boundless 
wealth. This is the true explanation of the unscrupulous vio- 
lence with which the statesmen of that day struggled for office, 
of the tenacity with which, in spite of vexations, humiliations 
and dangers, they clung to it, and of the scandalous compliances 
to which they stooped in order to retain it. Even in our own 
age, formidable as is the power of opinion, and high as is 
the standard of integrity, there would be great risk of a 
lamentable change in the character of our public men, if the 
place of First Lord of the Treasury or Secretary of State were 
worth a hundred thousand pounds a year. Happy for our coun- 
try the emoluments of the highest class of functionaries have 
not only not grown in proportion to the general growth of our 
opulence, but have positively diminished. 

The fact that the sum raised in England by taxation has, in 

* See the Travels of the Grand Duke Cosmo. 


a time not exceeding two long lives, been multiplied forty-fold, 
is strange, and may at first sight seem appalling. But those 
who are alarmed by the increase of the public burdens may 
perhaps be reassured when they have considered the increase 
of the public resources. In the year 1685, the value of the 
produce of the soil far exceeded the value of all the other fruits 
of human industry. Yet agriculture was in what would now be 
considered as a very rude and imperfect state. The arable land 
and pasture land were not supposed by the best political arith- 
meticians of that age to amount to much more than half the 
area of the kingdom.* The remainder was believed to consist 
of moor, forest, and fen. These computations are strongly con- 
firmed by the road books and maps of the seventeenth century. 
From those books and maps it is clear that many routes which 
now pass through an endless succession of orchards, cornfields, 
hayfields, and beanfields, then ran through nothing but heath, 
swamp, and warren. f In the drawings of English landscapes 
made in that age for the Grand Duke Cosmo, scarce a hedgerow 
is to be seen, and numerous tracts, now rich with cultivation, 
appear as bare as Salisbury Plain. t At Enfield, hardly out of 
sight of the smoke of the capital, was a region of five and 
twenty miles in circumference, which contained only three 
houses and scarcely any enclosed fields. Deer, as free as in an 
American forest, wandered there by thousands. § It is to be 
remarked, that wild animals of large size were then far more 
numerous than at present. The last wild boars, indeed, which 

* King's Natural and Political Conclusions. Davenant on the Balance of 

t See the Itinerarium Anglise, 1675, by John Ogilby, Cosmographer Royal. 
He describes great part of the land as wood, fen, heath on both sides, marsh on 
both sides. In some of his maps the roads through enclosed country are marked 
by lines, and the roads through unenclosed country by dots. The proportion of 
unenclosed country, which, if cultivated, must have been wretchedly cultivated, 
seems to have been very great. From Abingdon to Gloucester, for example, a 
distance of forty or fifty miles, there was not a single enclosure, and scarcely 
one enclosure between Biggleswade and Lincoln. 

t Large copies of these highly interesting drawings are in the noble collec- 
tion bequeathed by Mr. Grenville to the British Museum. See particularly the 
drawings of Exeter and Northampton. 

§ Evelyn's Diary, June 2, 1675. 


had been preserved for the royal diversion, and had been 
allowed to ravage the cultivated land with their tusks, had 
been slaughtered by the exasperated rustics during the license 
of the civil war. The last wolf that has roamed our island had 
been slain in Scotland a short time before the close of the reimi 
of Charles the Second. But many breeds, now extinct, or rare, 
both of quadrupeds and birds, were still common. The fox, 
whose life is now, in many counties, held almost as sacred as 
that of a human being, was then considered as a mere nuisance. 
Oliver Saint John told the Long Parliament that Strafford was 
to be regarded, not as a stasj or a hare, to whom some law was 
to be given, but as a fox, who was to be snared by any means, 
and knocked on the head without pity. This illustration would 
be by no means a happy one, if addressed to country gentlemen 
of our time: but in Saint John's days there were not seldom 
great massacres of foxes to which the peasantry thronged with 
all the dogs that could be mustered : traps were set : nets were 
spread : no quarter was given ; and to shoot a female with cub 
was considered as a feat which merited the warmest gratitude 
of the neighbourhood. The red deer were then as common in 
Gloucestershire and Hampshire, as they now are among the 
Grampian Hills. On one occasion Queen Anne, travelling to 
Portsmouth, saw a herd of no less than five hundred. The 
wild bull with his white mane was still to be found wanderinsr 
in a few of the southern forests. The badger made his dark 
and tortuous hole on the side of every hill where the copse- 
wood grew thick. The wild cats were frequently heard by 
night wailing round the lodges of the rangers of Whittlebury 
and Needwood. The yellow-breasted martin was still pursued 
in Cranbourne Chase for his fur, reputed inferior only to that 
of the sable. Fen eagles, measuring more than nine feet 
between the extremities of the wings, preyed on fish along the 
coast of Norfolk. On all the downs, from the British Channel 
to Yorkshire huge bustards strayed in troops of fifty or sixty, 
and were often hunted with greyhounds. The marshes of 
Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire were covered during some 
months of every year by immense clouds of cranes. Some of 


these races the progress of cultivation has extirpated. Of 
others the numbers are so much diminished that men crowd to 
gaze at a specimen as at a Bengal tiger, or a Polar bear.* 

The progress of this great change can nowhere be more 
clearly traced than in the Statute Book. The number of en- 
closure acts passed since King George the Second came to the 
throne exceeds four thousand. The area enclosed under the 
authority of those acts exceeds, on a moderate calculation, ten 
thousand square miles. How many square miles, which were 
formerly uncultivated or ill cultivated, have, during the same 
period, been fenced and carefully tilled by the proprietors with- 
out any application to the legislature, can only be conjectured. 
But it seems highly probable that a fourth part of England has 
been, in the course of little more than a century, turned from a 
wild into a garden. 

Even in those parts of the kingdom which at the close of the 
reign of Charles the Second were the best cultivated, the farm- 
ing, though greatly improved since the civil war, was not such 
as would now be thought skilful. To this day no effectual 
steps have been taken by public authority for the purpose of 
obtaining accurate accounts of the produce of the English soil. 
The historian must therefore follow, with some misgivings, the 
guidance of those writers on statistics whose reputation for dili- 
gence and fidelity stands highest. At present an average crop 
of wheat, rye, barley, oats, and beans, is supposed considerably 
to exceed thirty millions of quarters. The crop of wheat would 
be thought wretched if it did not exceed twelve millions of 
quarters. According to the computation made in the year 1696 
by Gregory King, the whole quantity of wheat, rye, barley? 
oats, and beans, then annually grown in the kingdom, was some- 
what less than ten millions of quarters. The wheat, which was 
then cultivated only on the strongest clay, and consumed only 
by those who were in easy circumstances, he estimated at less 

* See White's Selborne ; Bell's History of "British Quadrupeds; Gentleman's 
Recreation, 1G86; Aubrey's Natural History of Wiltshire, 1G85 ; Morton's History 
of Northamptonshire, 1712 ; Willoughby's Ornithology, by Ray, 1G78 ; Latham's 
General Synopsis of Birds ; and Sir Thomas Browne's Account of Birds found in 


than two millions of quarters. Charles Davenant, an acute 
and well informed though most unprincipled and raucorous 
politician, differed from King as to some of the items of the 
account, but came to nearly the same general conclusions.* 

The rotation of crops was very imperfectly understood. It 
was known, indeed, that some vegetables lately introduced into 
our island, particularly the turnip, afforded excellent nutriment 
in winter to sheep and oxen : but it was not yet the practice to 
feed cattle in this manner. It was therefore by no means easy 
to keep them alive during the season when the grass is scanty. 
They were killed and salted in great numbers at the beginning 
of the cold weather ; and, during several months, even the gen- 
try tasted scarcely any fresh animal food, except game and 
river fish, which were consequently much more important arti- 
cles in housekeeping than at present. It appears from the 
Northumberland Household Book that, in the reign of Henry 
the Seventh, fresh meat was never eaten even by the gentlemen 
attendant on a great Earl, except during the short interval 
between Midsummer and Michaelmas. But in the course of 
two centuries an improvement had taken place ; and under 
Charles the Second it was not till the beginning of November 
that families laid in their stock of salt provisions, then called 
Martinmas beef.f 

The sheep and the ox of that time were diminutive when 
compared with the sheep and oxen which are now driven to our 
markets. $ Our native horses, though serviceable, were held in 
small esteem, and fetched low prices. They were valued, one 
with another, by the ablest of those who computed the national 
wealth, at not more than fifty shillings each. Foreign breeds 
were greatly preferred. Spanish jennets were regarded as the 
finest chargers, and were imported fcr purposes of pageantry 
and war. The coaches of the aristocracy were drawn by grey 
Flemish mares, which trotted, as it was thought, with a peculiar 

* King's Natural and Political Conclusions. Davenant on the Balance of 

t See the Almanacks of 1684 and 1685. 

t See Mr. M'Culloch's Statistical Account of the British Empire, Part IIL 
chap. i. sec. 6. 


grace, and endured better than any cattle reared in our island 
the work of dragging a ponderous equipage over the rugged 
pavement of London. Neither the modern dray horse nor the 
modern race horse was then known. At a much later period the 
ancestors of the gigantic quadrupeds, which all foreigners now 
class among the chief wonders of London, were brought from 
the marshes of Walcheren ; the ancestors of Childers and Eclipse 
from the sands of Arabia. Already, however, there was among 
our nobility and gentry a passion for the amusements of the 
turf. The importance of improving our studs by an infusion of 
new blood was strongly felt ; and with this view a considerable 
number of barbs had lately been brought into the couutry. Two 
men whose authority on such subjects was held in great esteem, 
the Duke of Newcastle and Sir John Fenwick, pronounced that 
the meanest hack ever imported from Tangier would produce a 
finer progeny than could be expected from the best sire of our 
native breed. They would not readily have believed that a 
time would come when the princes and nobles of neighbouring 
lands would be as eager to obtain horses from England as ever 
the English had been to obtain horses from Barbary.* 

The increase of vegetable and animal produce, though great, 
seems small when compared with the increase of our mineral 
wealth. In 1685 the tin of Cornwall, which had, more than 
two thousand years before, attracted the Tyrian sails beyond 
the pillars of Hercules, was still one of the most valuable sub- 
terranean productions of the island. The quantity annually 
extracted from the earth was found to be, some years later, 
sixteen hundred tons, probably about a third of what it now is.f 
But the veins of copper which lie in the same region were, in 
the time of Charles the Second, altogether neglected, nor did 
any landowner take them into the account in estimating the 

* King and Davenant as before ; The Duke of Newcastle on Horsemanship : 
Gentleman's Recreation, 1686. The " dappled Flanders mares " were marks of 
greatness in the time of Pope, and even later. 

The vulgar proverb, that the grey mare is the better horse, orinrmated. T as- 
pect, in the preference generally given to the grey mares of Flanders over the 
finest coach horses of England. 

t See a curious note by Tonkin, in Lord De Dunstanville'a edition of Carew's 
Survey of Cornwall. 



value of his property. Cornwall and "Wales at present yield 
annually near fifteen thousand tons of copper, worth near a 
million and a half sterling ; that is to say, worth about twice as 
much as the annual produce of all English mines of all descrip- 
tions in the seventeenth century.* The first bed of rock salt 
had been discovered in Cheshire not long after the Restoration, 
but does not appear to have been worked till much later. The 
salt which was obtained by a rude process from brine pits was 
held in no high estimation. The pans in which the manufacture 
was carried on exhaled a sulphurous stench ; and, when the 
evaporation was complete, the substance which was left was 
scarcely fit to be used with food. Physicians attributed the 
scorbutic and pulmonary complaints which were common among 
the English to this unwholesome condiment. It was therefore 
seldom used by the upper and middle classes ; and there was a 
regular and considerable importation from France. At present 
our springs and mines not only supply our own immense demand, 
but send annually more than seven hundred millions of pounds 
of excellent salt to foreign countries. f 

Far more important has been the improvement of our iron 
works. Such works had long existed in our island, but had not 
prospered, and had been regarded with no favourable eye by the 
government and by the public. It was not then the practice to 
employ coal for smelting the ore ; and the rapid consumption 
of wood excited the alarm of politicians. As early as the reign 
of Elizabeth, there had been loud complaints that whole forests 
were cut down for the purpose of feeding the furnaces ; and the 
Parliament had interfered to prohibit the manufacturers from 
burning timber. The manufacture consequently languished. 
At the close of the reign of Charles the Second, great part of 
the iron which was used in this country was imported from 

abroad ; and the whole quantity cast here annually seems not 

* Borlase's Natural History of Cornwall. 1758. The quantity of copper now- 
produced, I have taken from parliamentary returns. Davenant, in 1700, estimated 
the annual of all the mines of England at between seven and eight 
hundred thousand pounds. 

t Philosophical Transactions, No. 53. Nov. 1669, No. GG. Dec 1670, No. 103. 
May 1674, No 156. Feb. 1683-4, 


to have exceeded ten thousand tons. At present the trade is 
thought to be in a depressed state if less than a million of tons 
are produced in a year.* 

One mineral, perhaps more important than iron itself, 
remains to be mentioned. Coal, though very little used in any 
species of manufacture, was already the ordinary fuel in some 
districts which were fortunate enough to possess large beds, and 
in the capital, which could easily be supplied by water carriage, 
It seems reasonable to believe that at least one half of the quan- 
tity then extracted from the pits was consumed in London. Tiw, 
consumption of London seemed to the writers of that age enor- 
mous, and was often mentioned by them as a proof of the great- 
ness of the imperial city. They scarcely hoped to be believed 
when they affirmed that two hundred and eighty thousand chal- 
drons, that is to say, about three hundred and fifty thousand 
tons, were, in the last year of the reign of Charles the Second, 
brought to the Thames. At present three millions and a half of 
tons are required yearly by the metropolis ; and the whole 
annual produce cannot, on the most moderate computation, be 
estimated at less than thirty millions of tons-t 

While these great changes have been in progress, the rent 
of land has, as might be expected, been almost constantly rising. 
In some districts it has multiplied more than tenfold. In some 
it has not more than doubled. It has probably, on the average, 

Of the rent, a large proportion was divided among the coun- 
try gentlemen, a class of persons whose position and character 
it is most important that we should clearly understand ; for by 
their influence and by their passions the fate of the nation was, 
at several important conjunctures, determined. 

* Yarranton, England's Improvement by Sea and Land, 1C77 ; Porter's Pro- 
gress of the Nation. See also a remarkably perspicuous history, in small compass, 
of the English iron works, in Mr. M'Culloch'a Statistical Account of the British 

t See Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684, 1687 ; Anglira Metropolis, 1G91 ; 
M'Culloch's Statistical Account of the British Empire, Part III. chap. ii. (edi!ion 
of 1317;. In 1815 the quantity of coal brought into London appeared, by the Par- 
liamentary returns, to be 3,460,000 tons. (1818.) In 1854 the quantity of coal 
brought into London amounted to 4,378,000 tons. (1857.) 


"We should be much mistaken if we pictured to ourselves the 
squires of the seventeenth century as men bearing a close re- 
semblance to their descendants, the county members and chair- 
men of quarter sessions with whom we are familiar. The 
modern country gentleman generally receives a liberal educa- 
tion, passes from a distinguished school to a distinguished 
college, and has ample opportunity to become an excellent 
scholar. He has generally seen something of foreign countries. 
A considerable part of his life has generally been passed in the 
capital ; and the refinements of the capital follow him into the 
country. There is perhaps no class of dwellings so pleasing 
as the rural seats of the English gentry. In the parks and 
pleasure grounds, nature, dressed yet not disguised by art, wears 
her most alluring form. In the buildings, good sense and good 
taste combine to produce a happy union of the comfortable and 
the graceful. The pictures, the musical instruments, the library, 
would in any other country be considered as proving the owner 
to be an eminently polished and accomplished man. A country 
gentleman who witnessed the Revolution was probably in re- 
ceipt of about a fourth part of the rent which his acres now 
yield to his posterity. He was, therefore, as compared with his 
posterity, a poor man, and was generally under the necessity of 
residing, with little interruption, on his estate. To travel on 
the Continent, to maintain an establishment in London, or even 
to visit London frequently, were pleasures in which only the 
great proprietors could indulge. It may be confidently affirmed 
that of the squires whose names were then in the Commissions 
of Peace and Lieutenancy not one in twenty went to town once 
in five years, or had ever in his life wandered so far as Paris. 
Many lords of manors had received an education differing little 
from that of their menial servants. The heir of an estate often 
passed his boyhood and youth at the seat of his family with no 
better tutors than grooms and gamekeepers, and scarce attained 
learning enough to sign his name to a Mittimus. If he went 
to school and to college, he generally returned before he was 
twenty to the seclusion of the old hall, and there, unless his 
mind were very happily constituted by nature, soon forgot his 


academical pursuits in rural business and pleasures. His chief 
serious employment was the care of his property. He examined 
samples of grain, handled pigs, and, on market days, made bar- 
gains over a tankard with drovers and hop merchants. His 
chief pleasures were commonly derived from field sports and 
from an unrefined sensuality. His language and pronunciation 
were such as we should now expect to hear only from the most 
ignorant clowns. His oaths, coarse jests, and scurrilous terms 
of abuse, were uttered with the broadest accent of his province. 
It was easy to discern, from the first words which he spoke, 
whether he came from Somersetshire or Yorkshire. He 
troubled himself little about decorating his abode, and, if he 
attempted decoration, seldom produced anything but deformity. 
The litter of a farmyard gathered under the windows of his 
bedchamber, and the cabbages and gooseberry bushes grew 
close to his hall door. His table was loaded with coarse plenty ; 
and guests were cordially welcomed to it. But, as the habit of 
drinking to excess was general in the class to which he belonged, 
and as his fortune did not enable him to intoxicate large assem- 
blies daily with claret or canary, strong beer was the ordinary 
beverage. The quantity of beer consumed in those days was 
indeed enormous. For beer then was to the middle and lower 
classes, not only all that beer is, but all that wine, tea, and 
ardent spirits now are. It was only at great houses, or on great 
occasions, that foreign drink was placed on the board. The 
ladies of the house, whose business it had commonly been to 
cook the repast, retired as soon as the dishes had been devoured, 
and left the gentlemen to their ale and tobacco. The coarse 
jollity of the afternoon was often prolonged till the revellers 
were laid under the table. 

It was very seldom that the country gentleman caught 
glimpses of the great world ; and what he saw of it tended 
rather to confuse than to enlighten his understanding. His 
opinions respecting religion, government, foreign countries 
and former times, having been derived, riot from study, from 
observation, or from conversation with enlightened companions, 
but from such traditions as were current in his own small circle, 


were the opinions of a child. lie adhered to them, however, 
with the obstinacy which is generally found in ignorant men 
accustomed to be fed with flattery. His animosities were nume- 
rous and bitter. He hated Frenchmen and Italians, Scotchmen 
and Irishmen, Papists and Presbyterians, Independents and 
Baptists, Quakers and Jews. Towards London and Londoners 
he felt an aversion which more than once produced important 
political effects. His wife and daughter were in tastes and 
acquirements below a housekeeper or a stillroom maid of the 
present day. They stitched and spun, brewed gooseberry wine, 
cured marigolds, and made the crust for the venison pasty. 

From this description it might be supposed that the English 
esquire of the seventeenth century did not materially differ 
from a rustic miller or alehouse keeper of our time. There are, 
however, some important parts of his character still to be noted, 
which will greatly modify this estimate. Unlettered as he was 
and unpolished, he was still in some most important points a 
gentleman. He was a member of a proud and powerful aristoc- 
racy, and was distinguished by many both of the good and of 
the bad qualities which belong to aristocrats. His family pride 
was beyond that of a Talbot or a Howard: He knew the 
genealogies and coats of arms of all his neighbours, and could 
tell which of them had assumed supporters without any right, 
and which of them were so unfortunate as to be greatgrandsons 
of aldermen. He was a magistrate, and, as such, administered 
gratuitously to those who dwelt around him a rude patriarchal 
justice, which, in spite of innumerable blunders and of occasional 
acts of tyranny, was yet better than no justice at all. He wr.i 
an officer of the trainbands ; and his military dignitv, though it 
might move the mirth of gallants who had served a campaign in 
Flanders, raised his character in his own eyes and in the eyes of 
his neighbours. Nor indeed was his soldiership justly a subject 
of derision. In every county there were elderly gentlemen who 
had seen service which was no child's play. One had been 
knighted by Charles the First, after the battle of Edgehill. 
Another still wore a patch over the scar which he had received 
at Naseby. A third had defended his old house till Fairfax had 


blown in the door with a petard. The presence of these old 
Cavaliers, with their old swords and holsters, and with their old 
stories about Goring and Lunsford, gave to the musters of militia 
an earnest and warlike aspect which would otherwise have been 
wanting. Even those country gentlemen who were too young 
to have themselves exchanged blows with the cuirassiers of the 
Parliament had, from childhood, been surrounded by the traces 
of recent war, and fed with stories of the martial exploits of 
their fathers and uncles. Thus the character of the English 
esquire of the seventeenth century was compounded of two 
elements which we seldom or never find united. Hia ignorance 
and uncouthness, his low tastes and gross phrases, would, in our 
time, be considered as indicating a nature and a breeding 
thoroughly plebeian. Yet he was essentially a patrician, and 
had, in large measure, both the virtues a;:d the vices which 
flourish among men set from their birth in high place, and used 
to respect themselves and to be respected by others. It is not 
easy for a generation accustomed to find chivalrous sentiments 
only in company with liberal studies and polished manners to 
image to itself a man with the deportment, the vocabulary, and 
the accent of a carter, yet punctilious on matters of genealogy 
and precedence, and ready to risk his life rather than see a stain 
cast on the honour of his house. It is however only by thus 
joining together things seldom or .never found together in our 
own experience, that we can form a just idea of that rustic 
aristocracy which constituted the main strength of the armies of 
Charles the First, and which long supported, with strange fidelity, 
the interest of his descendants. 

The gross, uneducated, untravelled country gentleman was 
commonly a Tory ; but, though devotedly attached to hereditary 
monarchy, he had no partiality for courtiers and ministers. He' 
thought, not without reason, that Whitehall was filled with the 
most corrupt of mankind, and that of the great sums which the 
Ilon^e of Commons had voted to the crown since the Restoration 
part had been embezzled by cunning politicians, and part squan- 
dered on buffoons and foreign courtesans. His stout English 
heart swelled with indignation at the thought that the govern- 


ment of his, country should be subject to French dictation. 
Being himself generally an old Cavalier, or the son of an old 
Cavalier, he reflected with bitter resentment on the ingratitude 
with which the Stuarts had requited their best friends. Those 
who heard him grumble at the neglect with which he was treated, 
and at the profusion with which wealth was lavished on the 
bastards of Nell Gwynn and Madam Carwell, would have sup- 
posed him ripe for rebellion. But all this ill humour lasted 
only till the throne was really in danger. It was precisely when 
those whom the sovereign had loaded with wealth and honours 
shrank from his side that the country gentlemen, so surly 
and mutinous in the season of his prosperity, rallied round 
him in a body. Thus, after murmuring twenty years at the 
inisgovernment of Charles the Second, they came to his rescue 
in his extremity, when his own Secretaries of State and the 
Lords of his own Treasury had deserted him, and enabled him 
to gain a complete victory over the opposition ; nor can there be 
any doubt that they would have shown equal loyalty to his 
brother James, if James would, even at the last moment, have 
refrained from outraging their strongest feeling. For there 
was one institution, and one only, which they prized even more 
than hereditary monarchy ; and that institution was the Church of 
England. Their love of the Church was not, indeed, the effect 
of study or meditation. Few among them could have given any 
reason, drawn from Scripture or ecclesiastical history, for adher- 
ing to her doctrines, her ritual, and her polity ; nor were they, 
as a class, by any means strict observers of that code of morality 
which is common to all Christian sects. But the experience of 
many ages proves that men may be ready to fight to the death, 
and to persecute without pity, for a religion whose creed they 
do not understand, and whose precepts they habitually disobey.* 
The rural clergy were even more vehement in Toryism than 
the rural gentry, and were a class scarcely less important. It 

* My noion of the country gentleman of the seventeenth century has beon de- 
rived from sources too numerous to be recapitulated. I must leave my descrip- 
tion to the judgment of those who have studied the history and the lighter liter- 
ature of that age. 


13 to be observed, however, that the individual clergyman, as 
compared with the individual gentleman, then ranked much 
lower than in our days. The main support of the Church was 
derived from the tithe ; and the tithe bore to the rent a much 
f smaller ratio than at present. King estimated the whole income 
of the parochial and collegiate clergy at only four hundred and 
eighty thousand pounds a year ; Davenant at only five hundred 
and forty-four thousand a year. It is certainly now more than 
seven times as great as the larger of these two sums. The aver- 
age rent of the land has not, according to any estimate, increased 
proportionally. It follows that the rectors and vicars must have 
been, as compared with the neighbouring knights and squires, 
much poorer in the seventeenth than in the nineteenth century. 
The place of the clergyman in society had been completely 
changed by the Reformation. Before that event, ecclesiastics 
had formed the majority of the House of Lords, had, in 
wealth and splendour, equalled, and sometimes outshone, the 
greatest of the temporal barons, and had generally held the 
highest civil offices. Many of the Treasurers, and almost all 
the Chancellors of the Plantagenets were Bishops. The 
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal and the Master of the Rolls 
were ordinarily churchmen. Churchmen transacted the most 
important diplomatic business. Indeed all that large portion 
of the administration which rude and warlike nobles were 
incompetent to conduct was considered as especially belong- 
ing to divines. Men, therefore, who were averse to the life 
of camps, and who were, at the same time, desirous to rise in 
the state, commonly received the tonsure. Among them were 
sons of all the most illustrious families, and near kinsmen of 
the throne, Scroops and Nevilles, Bourchiers, Staffords and 
Poles. To the religious houses belonged the rent3 of im- 
mense domains, and all that large portion of the tithe which 
is now in the hands of laymen. Down to the middle of the 
reign of Henry the Eighth, therefore, no line of life was so 
attractive to ambitious and covetous natures as the priesthood. 
Then came a violent revolution. The abolition of the monas- 
teries deprived the Church at once of the greater part of 


her wealth, and of her predominance in the Upper House of 
Parliament. There was no longer an Abbot of Glastonburyor 
an Abbot of Reading seated among the peers, and possessed of 
revenues equal to those of a powerful Earl. The princely 
splendour of William of Wykeham and of William of Waynflete 
had disappeared. The scarlet hat of the Cardinal, the silver 
cross of the Legate, were no more. The clergy had also lost 
the ascendency which is the natural reward of superior mental 
cultivation. Once the circumstance that a man could read had 
raised a presumption that he was in orders. But, in an age 
which produced such laymen as William Cecil and Nicholas 
Bacon, Roger Ascham and Thomas Smith, Walter Mildmay and 
Francis Walsingham, there was no reason for calling away 
prelates from their dioceses to negotiate treaties, to superintend 
the finances, or to administer justice. The spiritual character 
not only ceased to be a qualification for high civil office, but 
began to be regarded as a disqualification. Those worldly 
motives, therefore, which had formerly induced so many able, 
aspiring, and high born youths to assume the ecclesiastical habit, 
ceased to operate. Not one parish in two hundred then afforded 
what a man of family considered as a maintenance. There 
were still indeed prizes in the Church : but they were few ; and 
even the highest were mean, when compared with the glory 
which had once surrounded the princes of the hierarchy. The 
state kept by Parker and Grindal seemed beggarly to those who 
remembered the imperial pomp of Wolsey, his palaces, which 
had become the favorite abodes of royalty, Whitehall and 
Hampton Court, the three sumptuous tables daily spread in his 
refectory, the forty-four gorgeous copes in his chapel, his run- 
ning footmen in rich liveries, and his body guards with gilded 
poleaxes. Thus the sacerdotal office lost its attraction for the 
higher classes. During the century which followed the acces- 
sion of Elizabeth, scarce a single person of noble descent took 
orders. At the close of the reign of Charles the Second, two 
sons of peers were Bishops ; four or five sons of peers were 
priests, and held valuable preferment : but these rare excep- 
tions did not take away the reproach which lay on the body. 


The clergy were regarded as, on the whole, a plebeian class.* 
And, indeed, for one who made the figure of a gentleman, ten 
were mere menial servants. A large proportion of those divines 
who had no benefices, or whose benefices were too small to 
afford a comfortable revenue, lived in the houses of laymen. It 
had long been evident that this practice tended to degrade the 
priestly character. Laud had exerted himself to effect a change ; 
and Charles the First had repeatedly issued positive orders that 
none but men of high rank should presume to keep domestic 
chaplains. f But these injunctions had become obsolete. Indeed 
during the domination of the Puritan, many of the ejected 
ministers of the Church of England could obtain bread and 
shelter only by attaching themselves to the households of roy- 
alist gentlemen ; and the habits which had been formed in those 
times of trouble continued long after the reestablishment of 
monarchy and episcopacy. In the mansions of men of liberal 
sentiments and cultivated understandings, the chaplain was 
doubtless treated with urbanity and kindness. His conversation, 
his literary assistance, his spiritual advice, were considered as 
hi ample return for his food, his lodging, and his stipend. But 
this was not the general feeling of the country gentlemen. The 
coarse and ignorant squire, who thought that it belonged to his 
dignity to have grace said every day at his table by an ec- 
clesiastic in full canonicals, found means to reconcile dignity 
with economy. A young Levite — such was the phrase then in 
use — might be had for his board, a small garret, and ten pounds 
a year, and might not only perform his own professional func- 
tions, might not only be the most patient of butts and of listen- 
ers, might not only be always ready in fine weather for bowls, 
and in rainy weather for shovelboard, but might also save the 

* Tn the eighteenth century the great increase in the value of henefices pro- 
duced a change. The younger ?ons of the nobilily were allured hack to the 
clerical profession. Warburton in a letter to Hurd, dated the 5th of July, 1752, 
mentions 1his change, which was then recent. <: .()iir grandees have at last found 
their way back into the Church. T only wonder they have been so long about it. 
p,,,t h e npsured that nothing but a new religious revolution, to sweep away the 
fragments that Henry the Eighth left after banqueting his courtiers, will drive 
them out again." 

t See Heylin's Cyprianus Angiitis. 


expense of a gardener, or of a groom. Sometimes the reverend 
man nailed up the apricots ; and sometimes he curried the coach 
horses. He cast up the farrier's bills. He walked ten miles 
with a message or a parcel. He was permitted to dine with the 
family ; but he was expected to content himself with the plain- 
est fare. He might fill himself with the corned beef and the 
carrots : but,- as soon as the tarts and cheesecakes made their 
appearance, he quitted his seat, and stood aloof till he was sum- 
moned to return thanks for the repast, from a great part of 
which he had been excluded.* 

Perhaps, after some years of service, he was presented to a 
living sufficient to support him ; but he often found it necessary 
to purchase his preferment by a species of Simony, which fur- 
nished an inexhaustible subject of pleasantry to three or four 
generations of scoffers. With his cure he was expected to 
take a wife. The wife had ordinarily been in the patron's 
service ; and it was well if she was not suspected of standing 
too high in the patron's favor. Indeed the nature of the mat- 
rimonial connections which the clergymen of that age were in 
the habit of forming is the most certain indication of the place 
which the order held in the social system. An Oxonian, writing 
a few months after the death of Charles the Second, complained 
bitterly, not only that the country attorney and the country 
apothecary looked down with disdain on the country clergyman, 
but that one of the lessons most earnestly inculcated on every 
girl of honourable family was to give no encouragement to a 
lover in orders, and that, if any young lady forgot this precept, 
she was almost as much disgraced as by an illicit amour. f 
Clarendon, who assuredly bore no ill will to the priesthood, 

* Eachard, Causes of the Contempt of the Clergy ; Oldham, Satire addressed 
to a Friend about to leave the University; Tatler, 255,258. That the Ensrlish 
clergy were a lowborn class, is remarked in the Travels of the Grand Duke Cosmo, 
Appendix A. 

t"A causidico, medicastro, insaque artificum farraorine, ecelesia* rector aut 
viearius contenmitur et fit ludibrio. Gentis et familiar nitor saoris ordinibus 
pollutus censetur : foeminisque natalitio insignibus unicum inenlratnr snepius 
prseeeptum, ne modestins naufragium faciant, aut, (quod idem aurilms tarn de- 
licatulis sonat,> ne clerico se nuptas dari patiantur." — Anglise Notitia, by T. 
Wood, of New College, Oxford, 1686. 


mentions it as a sign of the confusion of ranks which the great 
rebellion had produced, that some damsels of noble families had 
bestowed themselves on divines.* A waiting woman was gen- 
erally considered as the most suitable helpmate for a parson. 
Queen Elizabeth, as head of the Church, had given what seemed 
to be a formal sanction to this prejudice, by issuing special 
orders that no clergyman should presume to espouse a servant 
girl, without the consent of the master or mistress.f During 
several generations accordingly the relation between divines 
and handmaidens was a theme for endless jest ; nor would it be 
easy to find, in the comedy of the seventeenth century, a single 
instance of a clergyman who wins a spouse above the rank of 
cook. | Even so late as the time of George the Second, the 
keenest of all observers of life and manners, himself a priest, 
remarked that, in a great household, the chaplain was the 
resource of a lady's maid whose character had been blown 
upon, and who was therefore forced to give up hopes of catch- 
ing the steward. § 

In general the divine who quitted his chaplainship for a 
benefice and a wife found that he had only exchanged one class 
of vexations for another. Hardly one living in fifty enabled 
the incumbent to bring up a family comfortably. As children 
multiplied and grew, the household of the priest became more 
and more beggarly. Holes appeared more and more plainly in 
the thatch of his parsonage and in his single cassock. Often 
it was only by toiling on his glebe, by feeding swine, and by 
loading dungcarts, that he could obtain daily bread ; nor did his 
utmost exertions always prevent the bailiffs from taking his con- 

* Clarendon's Life. ii. 21. 

t See the injunctions of 1550, in Bishop Sparrow's Collection. Jeremy Collier 
in his Essay on Pride, speaks of this injunction with a bitterness which proves 
that his own pride hnd not been effectually tamed. 

+ Roger and Abigail in Fletcher's Scornful Lady, Bull and the Nurse in 
Yanbrugh's Relapse, Smirk and Susan in Shadwell's Lancashire Witches, ara 

5 Swift's Directions to Servants. Tn Swift's Remarks on the Clerical Pesidence 
Bill, he describes tbe family of an English vicar thus :— " His wife is little better 

than a Coody, in her birth, education, or dress His daughters shall go 

to sen-ice, or be sent apprentice to the sempstress of the next town." 



cordance and his inkstand in execution. It was a white day on 
which he was admitted into the kitchen of a great house, and 
regaled by the servants with cold meat and ale. His children 
were brought up like the children of the neighbouring peasantry. 
His boys followed the plough ; and his girls went out to ser- 
vice.* Study he found impossible : for the advowson of his 
living would hardly have sold for a sum. sufficient to purchase a 
good theological library ; and he might be considered as unusu- 
ally lucky if he had ten or twelve dogeared volum'es among the 
pots and pans on his shelves. Even a keen and strong intellect 
might be expected to rust in so unfavourable a situation. 

Assuredly there was at that time no lack in the English 
Church of ministers distinguished by abilities and learning. 
But it is to be observed that these ministers were not scattered 
among the rural population. They were brought togeiher at a 
few places where the means of acquiring knowledge were 
abundant, and where the opportunities of vigorous intellectual 
exercise were frequent, t At such places were to be found 
divines qualified by parts, by eloquence, by wide knowledge of 
literature, of science, and of life, to defend their Church vic- 
toriously against heretics and sceptics, to command the attention 
of frivolous and worldly congregations, to guide the delibera- 
tions of senates, and to make religion respectable, even in the 
most dissolute of courts. Some laboured to fathom the abysses 
of metaphysical theology : some were deeply versed in biblical 
criticism ; and some threw light on the darkest parts of ecclesi- 
astical history. Some proved themselves consummate masters 
of logic. Some cultivated rhetoric with such assiduity. and suc- 
cess that their discourses are still justly valued as models of 
style. These eminent men were to be found, with scarcely a 

* Even in Tom Jones, published two generations later. Mis. Seagrim, the wife 
of a gamekeeper, and Mrs. Honour, a waitingwoman, boast of their descent from 
clergymen. "It is to be hoped," says Fielding, "such instances will in future 
ages, when some provision is made for the families of the inferior clergy, appear 
strancrer tbnn they can be thought at present. 

t This distinction between country clergy and town clergy is strpngly marker 
by Eachard. and cannot but be observed by every person who has studied the 
ecclesiastical history of that age. 


single exception, at the Universities, at the great Cathedrals, or 
in the capital. Barrow had lately died at Cambridge ; and 
Pearson had gone thence to the episcopal bench. Cudworth 
and Henry More were still living there. South and Pococke, 
Jane and Aldrich, were at Oxford, Prideaux was in the close 
of Norwich, and Whitby in the close of Salisbury. But it was 
chiefly by the London clergy, who were always spoken of as a 
class apart, that the fame of their profession for learning and 
eloquence was upheld. The principal pulpits of the metropo- 
lis were occupied about this time by a crowd of distinguished 
men, from among whom was selected a large proportion of the 
rulers of the Church. Sherlock preached at the Temple, Til- 
lotson at Lincoln's Inn, Wake and Jeremy Collier at Gray's Inn, 
Burnet at the Rolls, Stillingfleet at Saint Paul's Cathedral, 
Patrick at Saint Paul's in Covent Garden, Fowler at Saint 
Giles's, Cripplegate, Sharp at Saint Giles's in the Fields, Teni- 
son at Saint Martin's, Sprat at Saint Margaret's, Beveridge at 
Saint Peter's in Cornhill. Of these twelve men, all of high 
note in ecclesiastical history, ten became Bishops, and four 
Archbishops. Meanwhile almost the only important theologi- 
cal works which came forth from a rural parsonage were those 
of George Bull, afterwards Bishop of Saint David's ; and Bull 
never would have produced those works, had he not inherited 
an estate, by the sale of which he was enabled to collect a 
library, such as probably no other country clergyman in Eng- 
land possessed. * 

Thus the Anglican priesthood was divided into two sections, 
which, in acquirements, in manners, and in social position, 
differed widely from each other. One section, trained for cities 
and courts, comprised men familiar with all ancient and modern 
learning ; men able to encounter Hobbes or Bossuet at all the 
weapons of controversy ; men who could, in their sermons, set 
forth the majesty and beauty of Christianity with such justness 
of thought, and such energy of language, that the indolent 
Charles roused himself to listen, and the fastidious Buckinoham 

- o 

* Nelson's Life of Bull. As to the extreme difficulty which the country 
clergy found in procuring hooks, see the Life of Thomus Bray, the founder of the 
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. 


forgot to sneer ; men whose address, politeness, and knowledge 
of the world qualified them to manage the consciences of the 
wealthy and noble ; men with whom Halifax loved to discus^ 
the interests of empires, and from whom Dryden was not 
ashamed to own that he had learned to write.* The other sec- 
tion was destined to ruder and humbler service. It was dis- 
persed over the country, and consisted chiefly of persons not at 
all wealthier, and not much more refined, than small farmers or 
upper servants. Yet it was in these rustic priests, who derived 
but a scanty subsistence from their tithe sheaves and tithe pigs, 
and who had not the smallest chance of ever attaining high pro- 
fessional honours, that the professional spirit was strongest. 
Among those divines who were the boast of the Universities 
and the delight of the capital, and who had attained, or might 
reasonably expect to attain, opulence and lordly rank, a party, 
respectable in numbers, and more respectable in character, 
leaned towards constitutional principles of government, lived 
on friendly terms with Presbyterians, Independents, and Bap- 
tists, would gladly have seen a full toleration granted to all 
Protestant sects, and would even have consented to make 
alterations in the Liturgy, for the purpose of conciliating 
honest and candid Nonconformists. But such latitudinarian- 
ism was held in horror by the country parson. He took, in- 
deed, more pride in his ragged gown than his superiors in 
their lawn and their scarlet hoods. The very consciousness 
that there was little in his worldly circumstances to distinguish 
him from the villagers to whom he preached led him to hold 
immoderately high the dignity of that sacerdotal office which 
was his single title to reverence. Having lived in seclusion, 
and having had little opportunity of correcting his opinions by 
reading or conversation, he held and taught the doctrines of in- 
defeasible hereditary right, of passive obedience, and of non- 
resistance, in all their crude absurdity. Having been long en- 
gaged in a petty war against the neighbouring dissenters, he 

* " I have frequently heard him (Dryden) own with pleasure, that if he had 
any talent for English prose it was owing to his having often read the writings of 
the great Archbishop Tillotson."— Congreve's Dedication of Dryden's Plays- 


too often hated them for the wrong which he had done them, 
and found no fault with the Five Mile Act and the Conventicle 
Act, except that those odious laws had not a sharper edge. 
Whatever influence his office gave him was exerted with pas- 
sionate zeal on the Tory side ; and that influence was immense. 
It would be a great error to imagine, because the country rec- fc 
tor was in general not regarded as a gentleman, because he 
could not dare to aspire to the hand of one of the young ladies 
at the manor house, because he was not asked into the parlours 
of the great, but was left to drink and smoke with grooms and 
butlers, that the power of the clerical body was smaller than at 
present. The influence of a class is by no means proportioned 
to the consideration which the members of that class enjoy in 
their individual capacity. A Cardinal is a much more exalted 
personage than a begging friar: but it would be a grievous 
mistake to suppose that the College of Cardinals has exercised 
a greater dominion over the public mind of Europe than the 
Order of Saint Francis. In Ireland, at present, a peer holds a 
far higher station in society than a Roman Catholic priest : yet 
there are in Munster and Connaught few counties where a 
combination of priests would not carry an election against a 
combination of peers. In the seventeenth century the pulpit 
was to a large portion of the population what the periodical 
press now is. Scarce any of the clowns who came to the par- 
ish church ever saw a Gazette or a political pamphlet. Ill in- 
formed as their spiritual pastor might be, he was yet better 
informed than themselves : he had every week an opportunity 
of haranguing them ; and his harangues were never answered. 
At every important conjuncture, invectives against the Whigs 
and exhortations to obey the Lord's anointed resounded at once 
from many thousands of pulpits ; and the effect was formidable 
indeed. Of all the causes which, after the dissolution of the 
Oxford Parliament, produced the violent reaction against the 
Exclusionists, the most potent seems to have been the oratory 
of the country clergy. 

The power which the country gentleman and the country 
clergyman exercised in the rural districts was in some measure 



counterbalanced by the power of the yeomanry, an eminently 
manly and truehearted race. The petty proprietors who cul- 
tivated their own fields with their own hands, and enjoyed a 
modest competence, without affecting to have scutcheons and 
crests, or aspiring to sit on the bench of justice, then formed a 
much more important part of the nation than at present. H 
we may trust the best statistical writers of that age, not less 
than a hundred and sixty thousand proprietors, who with their 
families must have made up more than a seventh of the whole 
population, derived their subsistence from little freehold estates. 
The average income of these small landholders, an income made 
up of rent, profit, and wages, was estimated at between sixty 
and seventy pounds a year. It was computed that the number 
of persons who tilled their own land was greater than the num- 
ber of those who farmed the land of others.* A large portion 
of the yeomanry had, from the time of the Reformation, leaned 
towards Puritanism, had, in the civil war, taken the side of the 
Parliament, had, after the Restoration, persisted in hearing 
Presbyterian and Independent preachers, had, at elections, 
strenuously supported the Exclusionists. and had continued, 
even after the discovery of the Rye House plot and the pro- 
scription of the Whig leaders, to regard Popery and arbitrary 
power with unmitigated hostilit} r . 

Great as has been the change in the rural life of England 
since the Revolution, the change which has come to pass in the 
cities is still more amazing. At present above a sixth part of 
the nation is crowded into provincial towns of more than thirty 
thousand inhabitants. In the reign of Charles the Second no 
provincial town in the kingdom contained thirty thousand in- 
habitants ; and only four provincial towns contained so many 
as ten thousand inhabitants. 

Next to the capital, but next at an immense distance, stood 
Bristol, then the first English seaport, and Norwich, then the 
first English manufacturing town. Both have since that time 
been far outstripped by younger rivals ; yet both have made 

* I have taken Davenant's estimate, which is a little lower than King's. 


oreat positive advances. The population of Bristol has quad- 
rupled. The population of Norwich has more than doubled. 

Pepys, who visited Bristol eight years after the Restoration, 
was struck by the splendour of the city. But his standard was 
not high ; for he noted down as a wonder the circumstance that, 
in Bristol, a man might look round him and see nothing but 
houses. It seems that, in no other place with which he was ac- 
quainted, except London, did the buildings completely shut out 
the woods and fields. Large as Bristol might then appear, it oc- 
cupied but a very small portion of the area on which it now 
stands. A few churches of eminent beauty rose out of a laby- 
rinth of narrow lanes built upon vaults of no great solidity. If 
a coach or a cart entered those allevs, there was danger that it 
would be wedged between the houses, and danger also that it 
would break in the cellars. Goods were therefore conveyed 
about the town almost exclusively in trucks drawn by dogs ; and 
the richest inhabitants exhibited their wealth, not by riding in 
gilded carriages, but by walking the streets with trains of ser- 
vants in rich liveries, and by keeping tables loaded with good 
cheer. The pomp of the christenings and burials far exceeded 
what was seen at any other place in England. The hospitality 
of the city was widely renowned, and especially the collations 
with which the sugar refiners regaled their visitors. The repast 
was dressed in the furnace, and was accompanied by a rich bev- 
erage made of the best Spanish wine, and celebrated over the 
whole kingdom as Bristol milk. This luxury was supported by 
a thriving trade with the North American plantations and with 
the West Indies. The passion for colonial traffic was so strong 
that there was scarcely a small shopkeeper in Bristol who had 
not a venture on board of some ship bound for Virginia or the 
Antilles. Some of these ventures indeed were not of the most 
honourable kind. There was, in the Transatlantic possessions 
of the crown, a great demand for labour; and this demand was 
partly supplied by a system of crimping and kidnapping at the 
principal English seaports. Nowhere was this system in such 
active and extensive operation as at Bristol. Even the first 
magistrates of that city were not ashamed to enrich themselves 


by so odious a commerce. The number of houses appears, from 
the returns of the hearth money, to have been in the year 1G85, 
just five thousand three hundred. We can hardly suppose the 
number of persons in a house to have been greater than in the 
city of London ; and in the city of London we learn from the best 
authority that there were then fifty-five persons to ten houses. 
The population of Bristol must therefore have been about 
twenty-nine thousand souls.* 

Norwich was the capital of a large and fruitful province. 
It was the residence of a Bishop and of a Chapter. It was the 
chief seat of the chief manufacture of the realm. Some men 
distinguished by learning and science had recently dwelt there ; 
and no place in the kingdom, except the capital and the Univer- 
sities, had more attractions for the curious. The library, the 
museum, the aviary, and the botanical garden of Sir Thomas 
Browne, were thought by Fellows of the Royal Society well 
worthy of a long pilgrimage. Norwich had also a court in 
miniature. In the heart of the city stood an old palace of the 
Dukes of Norfolk, said to be the largest town house in the 
kingdom out of London. In this mansion, to which were an- 
nexed a tennis court, a bowling green, and a wilderness stretch- 
ing along the banks of the Wansum, the noble family of How- 
ard frequently resided, and kept a state resembling that of 
petty sovereigns. Drink was served to guests in goblets of pure 
gold. The very tongs and shovels were of silver. Pictures by 
Italian masters adorned the walls. The cabinets were filled with 
a fine collection of gems purchased by that Earl of Arundel 
whose marbles are now among the ornaments of Oxford. Here, 
in the year 1671, Charles and his court were sumptuously en-, 
tertained. Here, too, all comers were annually welcomed, from 

* Evelyn's Diary, June 27, 1654 ; Pepys's Diary, June 13, 1668 ; Boger North's 
Lives of Lord Keeper Guildford, and of Sir Dudley North ; Petty's Political 
Arithmetic. I have taken Petty's facts, hut, in drawing inferences from thtm, 
I have heen guided hy King and Davenant, who, though not abler men than he, 
had the advantage of coming after him. As to the kidnapping for which Bristol 
was infamous, see North's Life of Guildford, 121, 216, and the harangue of Jef- 
freys on the subject, in the Impartial History of his Life and Death, printed with 
the Bloody Assizes. His style was, as usual, coarse ; hut I cannot reckon the 
reprimand which he gave to the magistrates of Bristol among his crimes. 


Christmas to Twelfth Night. Ale flowed in oceans for the popu- 
lace. Three coaches, one of which had been built at a cost of 
five hundred pounds to contain fourteen persons, were sent every 
afternoon round the city to bring ladies to the festivities ; and 
the dances were always followed by a luxurious banquet. When 
the Duke of Norfolk came to Norwich, he was greeted like a 
King returning to his capital. The bells of the Cathedral and 
of St. Peter Mancroft were rung : the guns of the castle were 
fired ; and the Mayor and Aldermen waited on their illustrious 
fellow citizen with complimentary addresses. In the year 1G93 
the population of Norwich was found by actual enumeration, to 
be between twenty-eight and twenty-nine thousand souls.* 

Far below Norwich, but still high in dignity and impor- 
tance, were some other ancient capitals of shires. In that age 
it was seldom that a country gentleman went up with his family 
to London. The county town was his metropolis. He some- 
times made it his residence during part of the year. At all 
events, he was often attracted thither by business and pleasure, 
by assizes, quarter sessions, elections, musters of militia, festi- 
vals, and races. There were the halls where the judges, robed 
in scarlet and escorted by javelins and trumpets, opened the 
King's commission twice a year. There were the markets at 
which the corn, the cattle, the wool, and the hop3 of the sur- 
rounding country were exposed to sale. There were the great 
fairs to which merchants came down from London, and where the 
rural dealer laid in his annual stores of sugar, stationery, 
cutlery, and muslin. There were the shops at which the best 
families of the neighbourhood bought grocery and millinery. 
Some of these places derived dignity from interesting historical 
recollections, from cathedrals decorated by all the art and 
magnificence of the middle ages, from palaces where a long 
succession of prelates had dwelt, from closes surrounded by the 
venerable abodes of deans and canons, and from castles which 
had in the old time repelled the Nevilles or de Veres, and 

* Fuller's Worthies ; Evelyn's Diary, Oct. 17, 1671 ; Journal of T. Browne, son 
cf Sii Thomas Browne, Jan. 1GG3-4 ; Blomelield's History of Norfolk ; History of 
the City and County of Norwich, 2 vols. 1768. 


which bore more recent traces of the vengeance of Rupert or 
of Cromwell. 

Conspicuous amongst these interesting cities were York, 
the capital of the north, and Exeter, the capital of the west. 
Neither can have contained much more than ten thousand 
inhabitants. Worcester, the queen of the cider land, had but 
eight thousand ; Nottingham probably as many. Gloucester, 
renowned for that resolute defence which had been fatal to 
Charles the First, had certainly between four and five thou- 
sand ; Derby not quite four thousand. Shrewsbury was the 
chief place of an extensive and fertile district. The Court of 
the Marches of AVales was held there. In the lamyuasre of the 
gentry many miles round the Wrekin, to go to Shrewsbury was 
to go to town. The provincial wits and beauties imitated, as 
well as they could, the fashions of Saint James's Park, in the 
walks along the side of the Severn. The inhabitants were 
about seven thousand.* 

The population of every one of these places has, since the 
Revolution, much more than doubled. The population of some 
has multiplied sevenfold. The streets have been almost entirely 
rebuilt. Slate has succeeded to thatch, and brick to timber. 
The pavements and the lamps, the display of wealth in the 
principal shops, and the luxurious neatness of the dwellings 
occupied by the gentry would, in the seventeenth century, have 
seemed miraculous. Yet is the relative importance of the old 
capitals of counties by no means what it was. Younger towns, 
towns which are rarely or never mentioned in our early history 

* The population of York appears, from the return of baptisms and burials, 
in Drake's History, to have been about 13,000 in 1730. Exeter had only 17,000 
Inhabitants in 1801. The population of Worcester was numbered just before the 
siege in 1646. See Nash's History of Worcestershire. I have made allowance 
for the increase which must be supposed to have taken place in forty years. In 
1740, the population of Nottingham was found, by enumeration, to be hist 10.00\ 
See Dering's History. The population of Gloucester may readily be inferred 
from the number of houses which Kin<x found in the returns of hearth monev, 
and from tbe number of births and burials which is eiven in Atkvns's Hi<=torv. 
The population of Derbv was 4000 in 1712. See Wollev's MS. History, quoted in 
Lvson's Magna Britannia. The population of Shrewsbury was ascertained, in 
IPO.", bv actual enumeration. As to the jraietie** of Shrewsbury, see Farquhar'8 
Tfe^ruitirirr Officer. Farquhar's description is borne out by a ballad in thePepysiau 
Library, of which the burden is •' Shrewsbury for me." 


and which sent no representatives to our early Parliaments, 
have, within the memory of persons still living, grown to a 
greatness which this generation contemplates with wonder and 
pride, not unaccompanied by awe and anxiety. 

The most eminent of these towns were indeed known in the 
seventeenth century as respectable seats of industry. ^Nay, 
their rapid progress and their vast opulence were then some- 
times described in language which seems ludicrous to a man 
who has seen their present grandeur. One of the most popu- 
lous and prosperous among them was Manchester. Manchester 
had been required by the Protector to send one representative 
to his Parliament, and was mentioned by writers of the time of 
Charles the Second as a busy and opulent place. Cotton had, 
during half a century, been brought thither from Cyprus and 
Smyrna ; but the manufacture was in its infancy. Whitney 
had not }'et taught how the raw material might be furnished in 
quantities almost fabulous. Arkwright had not yet taught how 
it might be worked up with a speed and precision which seem 
magical. The whole annual import did not, at the end of the 
seventeenth century, amount to two millions of pounds, a quan- 
tity which would now hardly supply the demand of forty-eight 
hours. That wonderful emporium, which in population and 
wealth far surpasses capitals so much renowned as Berlin, 
Madrid, and Lisbon, was then a mean and ill built market town 
containing under six thousand people. It then had not a single 
press. It now supports a hundred printing establishments. It 
then had not a single coach. It now supports twenty coach- 

Leeds was already the chief seat of the woollen manufactures 
of Yorkshire; but the elderly inhabitants could still remember 
the time when the first brick house, then and long after called 
the Red House, was built. They boasted loudly of their in- 

* T?lomo's Britannia. J673 ; AiVin's Country round Manoheeter ; Manchester 
pirectorv. 1*4.- : Batnes, History of the Cotton Manufacture. The best informa- 
tion whieh T have Ven nhle to find, touching the population of Manchester ha 
tfto seventeenth eentnrv, is contained in a paner drawn up hv 1he "Reverend K. 
PnrMnson, and published in the Journal of the Statistical Society for October 



creasing wealth, and of the immense sales of cloth which took 
place in the open air on the bridge. Hundreds, nay thousands 
of pounds, had been paid down in the course of one busy market 
day. The rising importance of Leeds had attracted the notice 
of successive governments. Charles the First had granted mu- 
nicipal privileges to the town. Oliver had invited it to send one 
member to the House of Commons. But from the returns of the 
hearth money it seems certain that the whole population of the 
borough, an extensive district which contains many hamlets, 
did not, in the reign of Charles the Second, exceed seven thou- 
sand souls. In 1841 there were more than a hundred and fifty 

About a day's journey south of Leeds, on the verge of a wild 
moorland tract, lay an ancient manor, now rich with cultivation, 
then barren and unenclosed, which was known by the name of 
Hallamshire. Iron abounded there ; and, from a very early 
period, the rude whittles fabricated there had been sold all over 
the kingdom. They had indeed been mentioned by Geoffrey 
Chaucer in one of his Canterbury Tales. But the manufacture 
appears to have made little progress during the three centuries 
which followed his time. This languor may perhaps be explain- 
ed by the fact that the trade was, during almost the whole of 
this long period, subject to such regulations as the lord and his 
court leet thought fit to impose. The more delicate kinds of 
cutlery were either made in the capital or brought from the 
Continent. Indeed it was not till the reign of George the First 
that the English surgeons ceased to import from France those 
exquisitely line blades which are required for operations on the 
human frame. Most of the Hallamshire forges were collected 
in a market town which had sprung up near the castle of the 
proprietor, and which, in the reign of James the First, had been 
a singularly miserable place, containing about two thousand in- 
habitants, of whom a third were half starved and half naked beg- 
gars. It seems certain from the parochial registers that the 

* Thoresby's DucatusLeodensis ; Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete ; Wardell's 
Municipal History of the Borough of Leeds. (1818.) In 1851 Leeds had 172,000 
Inhabitants. (1857.) 


population did not amount to four thousand at the end of the 
reio-n of Charles the Second. The effects of a species of toil 
singularly unfavourable to the health and vigour of the human 
frame were at once discerned by every traveller. A large propor- 
tion of the people had distorted limbs. This is that Sheffield 
which now, with its dependencies, contains a hundred and twenty 
thousand souls, and which sends forth its admirable knives, razors, 
and lancets to the farthest ends of the world.* 

Birmingham had not been thought of sufficient importance 
to return a member to Oliver's Parliament. Yet the manufac- 
turers of Birmingham were already a busy and thriving race. 
They boasted that their hardware was highly esteemed, not in- 
deed as now, at Pekin and Lima, at Bokhara and Timbuctoo, 
but in London, and even as far off as Ireland. They had ac- 
quired a less honourable renown as coiners of bad money. In 
allusion to their spurious groats, some Tory wit had fixed on 
demagogues, who hypocritically affected zeal against Popery, 
the nickname of Birminghams. Yet in 1685 the population, 
which is now little less than two hundred thousand, did not 
amount to four thousand. Birmingham buttons were just 
beginning to be known : of Birmingham guns nobody had yet 
heard ; and the place whence, two generations later, the mag- 
nificent editions of Baskerville went forth to astonish all the 
librarians of Europe, did not contain a single regular shop 
where a Bible or an almanack could be bought. On Market 
days a bookseller named Michael Johnson, the father of the 
great Samuel Johnson, came over from Lichfield, and opened 
a stall during a few hours. This supply of literature was long 
found equal to the demand. f 

* Hunter's History of Hallamshire. (1848.) In 1851 the population of Sheffield 
bad increased to 135,000. (1857.) 

t Blome's Britannia, 1C73 ; Dugdale's Warwickshire ; North's Examen,321; 
Preface to Absalom and Achitophel ; Hxilton's History of Birmingham ; Brswell'8 
Life of Johnson. In 1GP0 the burials at Birmingham were 150, the baptisms 125. 
I think it probable that the annual mortality was little less than one in twenty- 
five. In London it was considerably greater. A historian of Nottingham, half 
a century later, boasted of the extraordinary salubrity of his town, where the an- 
nual mortality was one in thirty. See Derin^'s History of Nottingham. (1848.) 
In 1851 the population of Birmingham had increased to 232,000. (1857.) 


These four chief seats of our great manufactures deserve 
especial mention. It would be tedious to enumerate all the 
populous and opulent hives of industry which, a hundred and 
fifty years a^o, were hamlets without parish churches, or deso- 
late moors, inhabited only by grouse and wild deer. Nor has 
the change been less signal in those outlets by which the pro- 
ducts of the English looms and forges are poured forth over the 
whole world. At present Liverpool contains more than three 
hundred thousand inhabitants. The shipping registered at her 
port amounts to between four and five hundred thousand tons. 
Into her custom house has been repeatedly paid in one year a 
sum more than thrice as great as the whole income of the Eng- 
lish crown in 1 685. The receipts of her post office, even since 
the great reduction of the duty, exceed the sum which the post- 
age of the whole kingdom yielded to the Duke of York. Her 
endless docks, quays, and warehouses are among the wonders of 
the world. Yet even those docks and quays and warehouses 
seem hardly to suffice for the gigantic trade of the Mersey ; and 
already a rival city is growing fast on the opposite shore. In 
the days of Charles the Second Liverpool was described as a 
rising town which had recently made great advances, and which 
maintained a profitable intercourse with Ireland and with the 
sugar colonies. The customs had multiplied eight-fold within 
sixteen years, and amounted to what was then considered as the 
immense sum of fifteen thousand pounds annually. But the 
population can hardly have exceeded four thousand : the ship- 
ping was about fourteen hundred tons, less than the tonnage of 
a single modern Indiaman of the first class ; and the whole 
number of seamen belonging to the port cannot be estimated at 
more than two hundred.* 

Such has been the progress of those towns where wealth is 
created and accumulated. Not less rapid has been the progress 
of towns of a very different kind, towns in which wealth, created 

* Blome's Britannia ; Gregson's Antiquities of the County Palatine and 
Duchy of Lancaster, Part II, ; Petition from Liverpool in the Privy Council 
BooTc, May 10, 1686. In 1<>90 the hurials at Liverpool were 151, the baptisms 120. 
In it'll the net receipt of the customs at Liverpool was 4,005,520/. ls.&d. (1818.) 
In IS51 Liverpool contained 375,000 inhabitants, (1857.) 


and accumulated elsewhere, is expended for purposes of health 
and recreation. Some of the most remarkable of *>hese gay 
places have sprung into existence since the time of the Stuarts. 
Cheltenham is now a greater city than any which the kingdom 
contained in the seventeenth century, London alone excepted. 
But in the seventeenth century, and at the beginning of the 
eighteenth, Cheltenham was mentioned by local historians merely 
as a rural parish lying under the Cotswold Hills, and affording 
good ground both for tillage and pasture. Corn grew and cat- 
tle browsed over the space now covered by that long succession 
of streets and villas.* Brighton was described as a place which 
had once been thriving, which had possessed many small fishing 
barks, and which had, when at the height of prosperity, contain- 
ed above two thousand inhabitants, but which was siuking fast 
into decay. The sea was gradually gaining on the buildings, 
which at length almost entirely disappeared. Ninety years 
ago the ruins of an old fort were to be seen lvin<r anions the 
pebbles and seaweed on the beach ; and ancient men could still 
point out the traces of foundations on a spot where a street of 
more than a hundred huts had been swallowed up by the waves. 
So desolate was the place after this calamity, that the vicarage 
was thought scarcely worth having. A few poor fishermen, 
however, still continued to dry their nets on those cliffs, on 
which now a town, more than twice as large and populous as 
the Bristol of the Stuarts, presents, mile after mile, its gay and 
fantastic front to the sea.| 

England, however, was not, in the seventeenth century, 
destitute of watering places. The gentry of Derbyshire and of 
the neighbouring counties repaired to Buxton, whore thev were 
lodged in low rooms under bare rafters, and regaled with oat- 
cake, and with a viand which the hosts called mutton, hut which 
the guests suspected to be dog. A single good house stood near 
the spring.* Tunbridge Wells, lying within a day's journey of 

* Atkyns's Gloucestershire, 
t Magna Britannia ; Grose'; 


X Tour in Derbyshire, by Thomas Browne, son of Sir Thomas. 

t Magna Britannia ; Grose's Antiquities'; New Brhrhthelmstone Directory. 

1770. J ' 


the capital, and in one of the richest and most highly civilised 
parts of the kingdom, had much greater attractions. At present 
we see there a town which would, a hundred and sixty years 
ago, have ranked, in population, fourth or fifth among the towns 
of England. The brilliancy of the shops and the luxury of 
the private dwellings far surpasses anything that England 
could then show. When the court, soon after the Restoration, 
visited Tunbridge Wells, there was no town : but, within a 
mile of the spring, rustic cottages, somewhat cleaner and 
neater than the ordinary cottages of that time, were scattered over 
the heath. Some of these cabins were movable and were 
carried on sledges from one part of the common to another. 
To these huts men of fashion, wearied with the din and smoke 
of London, sometimes came in the summer to breathe fresh air, 
and to catch a glimpse of rural life. During the season a kind 
of fair was daily held near the fountain. The wives and daugh- 
ters of the Kentish farmers came from the neighbouring villages 
with cream, cherries, wheatears, and quails. To chaffer with 
them, to flirt with them, to praise their straw hats and tight 
heels, was a refreshing pastime to voluptuaries sick of the airs of 
actresses and maids of honour. Milliners, toymen, and jewellers 
came down from London, and opened a bazaar under the trees. 
In one booth the politician might find his coffee and the London 
Gazette ; in another were gamblers playing deep at basset ; and, 
on fine evenings, the fiddles were in attendance, and there were 
morris dances on the elastic turf of the bowling crreen. In 
1685 a subscription had inst been raised amonff those who fre- 
quented the wells for building a church, which the Tories, who 
th^n domineered evervwhere. insisted on dedicating: to Saint 
Charles the Martvr.* 

But at the head of the English watering places, without a 
rival, was Bath. The springs of that city had been renowned 
from the days of the Bomans. Tt had been, during many cen- 
turies, the seat of a Bishop. The sick repaired thither from 

* M°moires de Grammc-nt ; TTasted's JTistorv of Kent : Tnnbridge Wells, a 
fnmedy, 1678; Causton's Timbridgialia, 1688 ; Metellus, a poem on Tunbridge 
Wells, 1693. 


every part of the realm. The King sometimes held his court 
there. Nevertheless, Bath was then a maze of only four or live 
hundred houses, crowded within an old wall in the vicinity of 
the Avon. Pictures of what were considered as the finest of 
those houses are still extant, and greatly resemble the lowest 
rag shops and pothouses of Ratcliffe Highway. Travellers 
indeed complained loudly of the narrowness and meanness of the 
Streets. That beautiful city which charms even eyes familiar 
with the masterpieces of Bramante and Palladio, and which the 
genius of Anstey and of Smollett, of Frances Burney and of 
Jane Austen, has made classic ground, had not begun to exist. 
Milsom Street itself was an open field lying far beyond the walls ; 
and hedgerows intersected the space which is now covered by 
the Crescent and the Circus. The poor patients to whom the 
waters had been recommended lay on straw in a place which, to 
use the language of a contemporary physician, was a covert 
rather than a lodging. As to the comforts and luxuries which 
were to be found in the interior of the houses of Bath by the 
fashionable visitors who resorted thither in search of health or 
amusement, we possess information more complete and minute 
than can generally be obtained on such subjects. A writer who 
published an account of that city about sixty years after the 
Revolution has accurately described the changes which had 
taken place within his own recollection. He assures us that, in 
his younger days, the gentlemen who visited the springs slept 
in rooms hardly as good as the garrets which he lived to see 
occupied by footmen. The floors of the dining rooms were 
uncarpeted, and were coloured brown with a wash made of soot 
and small beer, in order to hide the dirt. Not a wainscot was 
painted. Not a hearth or a chimneypiece was of marble. A 
slab of common free-stone and fire irons which had cost from 
three to four shillings were thought sufficient for any fireplace. 
The best apartments were hung with coarse woollen stuff, and 
were furnished with rushbottomed chairs. Readers who take 
an interest in the progress of civilisation and of the useful arts 
will be grateful to the humble topographer who has recorded 
these facts, and will perhaps wish that historians of far higher 


pretensions had sometimes spared a few pages from military 
evolutions and political intrigues, for the purpose of letting us 
know how the parlours and bedchambers of our ancestors 

The position of London, relatively to the other towns of the 
empire, was, in the time of Charles the Second, far higher than 
at present. For at present the population of London is little 
more than six times the population of Manchester or of Liver- 
pool. In the days of Charles the Second the population of 
London was more than seventeen times the population of Bristol 
or of Norwich. It may be doubted whether any other instance 
can be mentioned of a great kingdom in which the first citv was 
more than seventeen times as large as the second. There is 
reason to believe that, in 168o, London had been, during about 
half a century, the most populous capital in Europe. The 
inhabitants, who are now at least nineteen hundred thousand, 
were then probably little more than half a million. | London 
had in the world only one commercial rival, now long ago out- 
stripped, the mighty and opulent Amsterdam. English writers 
boasted of the forest of masts and yardarms which covered the 
river from the Bridge to the Tower, and of the stupendous sums 
which were collected at the Custom House in Thames Street. 
There is, indeed, no doubt that the trade of the metropolis then 
bore a far greater proportion than at present to the whole trade 
of the country ; yet to our generation the honest vaunting of 
our ancestors must appear almost ludicrous. The shipping 
which they thought incredibly great appears not to have 
exceeded seventy thousand tons. This was, indeed, then more 
than a third of the whole tonnage of the kingdom, but is now 
Jess than a fourth of the tonnage of Newcastle, and is nearly 
Equalled by the tonnage of the steam vessels of the Thames. 

* See Wood's History of Bath, 1719 ; Evelyn's Diary. June 27, 1651 ; Penys's 
Diary, June 12, 1333; StuIieley'sItinerariurnChiriosum; Collinso.i'sSoraorsotohire; 
Dr. Peirce's llistory and Llemoirs of the Bath, 1713, Book I. chap. vili. obs. 2, 
1684. I have consulted several old maps and pictures cf Bath, particularly one 
curious map which is surrounded by views of the principal buildings. It bears 
the date of 1717. 

t According to King 530,000. (1818.) In 1851 the population of London exceed- 
ed, 2,300,000. (1857.) 


The customs of London amounted, in 1685, to about three hun- 
dred and thirty thousand pounds a year. In our time the net 
duty paid annually, at the same place, exceeds ten millions.* 

Whoever examines the maps of London which were pub- 
lished .towards the close of the reign of Charles the Second 
will see that only the nucleus of the present capital then ex- 
isted. The town did not, as now, fade by imperceptible degrees 
into the country. No long avenues of villas, embowered in 
lilacs and laburnums, extended from the great centre of wealth 
and civilisation almost to the boundaries of Middlesex and far 
into the heart of Kent and Surrey. In the east, no part of the 
immense line of warehouses and artificial lakes which now 
stretches from the Tower 10 Blackwall had even been projected. 
On the west, scarcely one of those stately piles of building 
which are inhabited by the noble and wealthy was in existence ; 
and Chelsea, which is now peopled by more than forty thousand 
human beings, was a quiet country village with about a thou- 
sand inhabitants. f On the north, cattle fed, and sportsmen 
wandered with dogs and guns, over the site of the borough of 
Marylebone, and over far the greater part of the space now 
covered by the boroughs of Finsbury and of the Tower Hamlets. 
Islington was almost a solitude ; and poets loved to contrast its 
silence and repose with the din and turmoil of the monster 
London.. t On the south the capital is now connected with its 
suburb by several bridges, not inferior in magnificence and 
soliditv to the noblest works of the Caesars. In 1685, a single 
line of irregular arches, overhung by piles of mean and crazy 
houses, and garnished, after a fashion worthy of the naked bar- 
barians of Dahomv, with scores of mouldering heads, impeded 
the navigation of the river. 

* Ma<-nh ergon's History of Commerce ; Chalmers's Estimate ; Chnmberlavne's 
Stat" of Finland. 1684. The tonnage of the steamers belonging to the port of 
London was, at the end of 1817, about 60,000 tons. The customs of the port, from 
1*42 to l«'fi, very nearly averasred 11.000.000?. (1848.) In 1854 the tonnage of the 
steamers of the port of London amounted to 138,000 tons, without reckoning 
vessels of less than fifty tons. (18">7.) 

t Lyson's Environs of London. The baptisms at Chelsea, between 1680 and 
1690, were only 42 a year. 

X Cowley, Discourse of Solitude. 



Of the metropolis, the City, properly so called, was the 
most important division. At the time of the Restoration it 
had been built, for the most part, of wood and plaster ; the 
few bricks that were used were ill baked ; the booths where 
goods were exposed to sale projected far into the streets, and 
were overhung by the upper stories. A few specimens of this 
architecture may still be seen in those districts which were not 
reached by the great fire. That fire had, in a few days, covered 
a space of little less than a square mile with the ruins of eighty- 
nine churches and of thirteen thousand houses. But the City 
had risen again with a celerity which had excited the admiration 
of neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, the old lines of the 
streets had been to a great extent preserved ; and those lines, 
originally traced in an age when even princesses performed 
their journeys on horseback, were often too narrow to allow 
wheeled carriages to pass each other with ease, and were there- 
fore ill adapted for the residence of wealthy persons in an age 
when a coach and six was a fashionable luxury. The style of 
building was, however, far superior to that of the City which 
had perished. The ordinary material was brick, of much better 
quality than had formerly been used. On the sites of the 
ancient parish churches had arisen a multitude of new domes, 
towers, and spires which bore the mark of the fertile genius of 
Wren. In every place save one the traces of the great devas- 
tation had been completely effaced. But the crowds of work- 
men, the scaffolds, and the masses of hewn stone were still to 
be seen where the noblest of Protestant temples was slowly 
rising on the ruins of the Old Cathedral of Saint Paul.* 

The whole character of the City has, since that time, under- 
gone a complete change. At present the bankers, the merchants, 
and the chief shopkeepers repair thither on six mornings of every 
week for the transaction of business ; but they reside in other 

* The fullest and most trustworthy information ahout the state of the build- 
ings of London at this time is to be derived from the maps and drawings in the 
British Museum and in the Pepysian Library. The badness of the bricks in the 
old buildings of London is particularly mentioned in the Travels of the Grand 
Duke Cosmo. There is an account of the works at Saint Paul's in Ward's Lon- 
don Spy. I am almost ashamed to quote such nauseous balderdash ; but I have 
been forced to descend even lower, if possible, in search of materials. 


quarters of the metropolis, or at suburban country seats sur- 
rounded by shrubberies and flower gardens. This revolution in 
private habits has produced a political revolution of no small 
importance. The City is no longer regarded by the wealthiest 
traders with that attachment which every man naturally feels for 
his home. It is no longer associated in their minds with domes- 
tic affections and endearments. The fireside, the nursery, the 
social table, the quiet bed are not there. Lombard Street and 
Threadneedle Street are merely places where men toil and ac- 
cumulate. They go elsewhere to enjoy and to expend. On a 
Sunday, or in an evening after the hours of business, some 
courts and alleys, which a few hours before had been alive with 
hurrying feet and anxious faces, are as silent as the glades of a 
forest. The chiefs of the mercantile interest are no longer cit- 
izens. They avoid, they almost contemn, municipal honours and 
duties. Those honours and duties are abandoned to men who, 
though useful and highly respectable, seldom belong to the 
princely commercial houses of which the names are renowned 
throujrhout the world. 

In the seventeenth century the City was tne merchant's res- 
idence. Those mansions of the great old burghers which still 
exist have been turned into counting houses' and warehouses : 
but it is evident that they were originally not inferior in magnifi- 
cence to the dwellings which were then inhabited by the nobil- 
ity. They sometimes stand in retired and gloomy courts, and 
are accessible only by inconvenient passages : but their dimen- 
sions are ample, and their aspect stately. The entrances are 
decorated with richly carved pillars and canopies. The staircases 
and landing places are not wanting in grandeur. The floors 
are sometimes of wood tessellated after the fashion of France. 
The palace of Sir Robert Clayton, in the Old Jewry, contained 
a superb banqueting room wainscoted with cedar, and adorned 
with battles of gods and giants in fresco. * Sir Dudley North 
expended four thousand pounds, a sum which would then have 
been important to a Duke, on the rich furniture of his re- 
ception rooms in Basinghall Street, f In such abodes, under 

« Evelyn** Diarv, Sept. 20. 1G72. t Roger North's Life of Sir Dudley North. 



the last Stuarts, the heads of the great firms lived splendidly and 
hospitably- To their dwelling place they were bound by the 
strongest ties of interest and affection. There they had passed 
their youth, had made their friendships, had courted their wives, 
had seen their children grow up, had laid the remains of their 
parents in the earth, and expected that their own remains would 
be laid. That intense patriotism which is peculiar to the mem- 
bers of societies congregated within a narrow space was, in such 
circumstances, strongly developed. London was, to the Londoner, 
what Athens was to the Athenian of the age of Pericles, what 
Florence was to the Florentine of the fifteenth century. The 
citizen was proud of the grandeur of his city, punctilious about 
her claims to respect, ambitious of her offices, and zealous for 
her franchises. 

At the close of the reign of Charles the Second the pride of 
the Londoners was smarting from a cruel mortification. The 
old charter had been taken away ; and the magistracy had been 
remodelled. All the civic functionaries were Tories : and the 
Whigs, though in numbers and in wealth superior to their oppo- 
nents, found themselves excluded from every local dignity. 
Nevertheless, the external splendour of the municipal govern- 
ment was not diminished, nay, was rather increased by this 
change. For, under the administration of some Puritans who 
had lately borne rule, the ancient fame of the City for good 
cheer had declined : but under the new magistrates, who belong- 
ed to a more festive party, and at whose boards guests or rank 
and fashion from beyond Temple Bar were often seen, the 
Guildhall and the halls of the great companies were enlivened 
by many sumptuous banquets. During these repasts, odes com- 
posed by the poet laureate of the corporation, in praise of the 
King, the Duke, and the Mayor, were sung to music. The 
drinking was deep and the shouting loud. An observant Tory, 
who had often shared in these revels, has remarked that the prac- 
tice of huzzaing after drinking healths dates from tnis joyous 

* North's Examen. This amusing writer has preserved a specimen of the sub* 
lime raptures in which the Pindar of the City indulged : — 
" The worshipful Sir John Moor ! 
After age that name adore ! 


The magnificence displayed by the first civic magistrate was 
almost regal. The gilded coach, indeed, which is now annually 
admired by the crowd, was not yet a part of his state. On great 
occasions he appeared on horseback, attended by a long cavalcade 
inferior in magnificence only to that which, before a coronation, 
escorted the sovereign from the Tower to "Westminster. The 
Lord Mayor was never seen in public without his rich robe, his 
hood of black velvet, his gold chain, his jewel, and a great 
attendance of harbingers and guards.* Nor did the world find 
anything ludicrous in the pomp which constantly surrounded 
him. For it was not more than became the place which, as 
wielding the strength and representing the dignity of the City 
of London, lie was entitled to occupy in the State. That City, 
being then not only without equal in the country, but without 
second, had, during five and forty years, exercised almost as 
great an influence on the politics of England as Paris has, in 
our own time, exercised on the politics of France. In intelli- 
gence London was greatly in advance of every other part of 
the kingdom. A government, supported and trusted by London, 
could in a day obtain such pecuniary means as it would have 
taken months to collect from the rest of the island. Nor were 
the military resources of the capital to be despised. The power 
which the Lord Lieutenants exercised in other parts of the 
kingdom was in London entrusted to a Commission of eminent 
citizens. Under the order of this Commission were twelve 
regiments of foot and two regiments of horse. An army of 
drapers' apprentices and journeymen tailors, with common 
• councilmen for captains and aldermen for colonels, might not 
indeed have been able to stand its ground against regular troops ; 
but there were then very few regular troops in the kingdom. 
A town, therefore, which could send forth, at an hour's notice, 
thousands of men, abounding in natural courage, provided with 
tolerable weapons, and not altogether untinctured with martial 
discipline, could not but be a valuable ally and a formidable 
enemy. It was not forgotten that Hampden and Pym had been 

* Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684; Angliae Metropolis, 1690 ; Seymour's 
London, 1734. 


protected from lawless tyranny by the London trainbands ; that, 
in the great crisis of the civil war, the London trainbands had 
marched to raise the siege of Gloucester ; or that, in the move- 
ment against the military tyrants which followed the downfall 
of Richard Cromwell, the London trainbands had borne a signal 
part. In truth, it is no exaggeration to say that, but for the 
hostility of the City, Charles the First would never have been 
vanquished, and that, without the help of the City, Charles the 
Second could scarcely have been restored. 

These considerations may serve to explain why, in spite of 
that attraction which had, during a long course of years, 
gradually drawn the aristocracy westward, a few men of high 
rank had continued, till a very recent period, to dwell in the 
vicinity of the Exchange and of the Guildhall. Shaftesbury 
and Buckingham, while engaged in bitter and unscrupulous op- 
position to the government, had thought that they could no- 
where carry on their intrigues so conveniently or so securely as 
under the protection of the City magistrates and the City militia. 
Shaftesbury had therefore lived in Aldersgate Street, at a house 
which may still be easily known by pilasters and wreaths, the 
graceful work of Inigo. Buckingham had ordered his mansion 
near Charing Cross, once the abode of the Archbishops of York, 
to be pulled down ; and, while streets and alleys which are still 
named after him were rising on that site, chose to reside in 

These, however, were rare exceptions. Almost all the noble 
families of England had long migrated beyond the walls. The 
district where most of their town houses stood lies between the ♦ 
city and the regions which are now considered as fashionable. 
A few great men still retained their hereditary hotels in the 
Strand. The stately dwellings on the south and west of Lin- 
coln's Inn Fields, the Piazza of Covent Garden, Southampton 
Square, which is now called Bloomsbury Square, and King's 
Square in Soho Fields, which is now called Soho Square, were 
amonor the favourite spots. Foreign princes were carried to 

* North's Examen, 116 ; Wood, Ath. Ox. Shaftesbury ; The Duke of B.'b 


see Bloomsbury Square, as one of the wonders of England.* 
Soho Square, which had just been built, was to our ancestors a 
subject of pride with which their posterity will hardly sympa- 
thise. Monmouth Square had been the name while the fortunes 
of the Duke of Monmouth flourished ; and on the southern side 
towered his mansion. The front, though ungraceful, was lofty 
and richly adorned. The walls of the principal apartments 
were finely sculptured with fruit, foliage, and armorial bearings, 
and were hung with embroidered satin. f Every trace of this 
magnificence has long disappeared ; and no aristocratical man- 
sion is to be found in that once aristocratical quarter. A little 
way north from Holborn, and on the verge of the pastures and 
corn-fields, rose two celebrated palaces, each with an ample 
garden. One of them, then called Southampton House, and 
subsequently Bedford House, was removed about fifty years 
ago to make room for a new city, which now covers with its 
squares, streets, and churches, a vast area, renowned in the 
seventeenth century for peaches and snipes. The other, Mon- 
tague House, celebrated for its frescoes and furniture, was, a 
few months after the death of Charles the Second, burned to the 
ground, and was speedily succeeded by a more magnificent 
Montague House, which, having been long the repository of 
such various and precious treasures of art, science, and learning 
as were scarcely ever before assembled under a single roof, has 
now given place to an edifice more magnificent still. $ 

Nearer to the Court, on a space called St. James's Fields, 
had just been built St. James's Square and Jermyn Street. 
St. James's Church had recently been opened for the accommo- 
dation of the inhabitants of this new quarter. § Golden Square, 
which was in the next generation inhabited by lords and min- 
isters of state, had not yet been begun. Indeed the only 
dwellings to be seen on the north of Piccadilly were three' or 
four isolated and almost rural mansions, of which the most 

* Travels of the Grand Duke Cosmo. 

t Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684 ; Pennant's London ; Smith's Life 
of Nollekens. 

X Evelyn's Diary, Oct. 10, 1683, Jan. 19, 1685-6- 

§ Stat. 1 Jac. II. c. 22 ; Evelyn's Diary, Dec. 7, 1684. 


celebrated was the costly pile erected by Clarendon, and nick- 
named Dunkirk House. It had been purchased after its found- 
er's downfall by the Duke of Albemarle. The Clarendon 
Hotel and Albemarle Street still preserve the memory of the 

He who then rambled to what is now the gayest and most 
crowded part of Regent Street found himself in a solitude, and 
was sometimes so fortunate as to have a shot at a woodcock.* 
On the north the Oxford road ran between hedges. Three or 
four hundred yards to the south were the garden walls of a few 
great houses which were considered as quite out of town. On 
the west was a meadow renowned for a spring from which, long 
afterwards, Conduit Street was named. On the east was a 
field not to be passed without a shudder by any Londoner of 
that age. There, as in a place far from the haunts of men, had 
been dug, twenty years before, when the great plague was 
raging, a pit into which the dead carts had nightly shot corpses 
by scores. It was popularly believed that the earth was deeply 
tainted with infection, and could not be disturbed without im- 
minent risk to human life. No foundations were laid there till 
two generations had passed without any return of the pesti- 
lence, and till the ghastly spot had long been surrounded by 

We should greatly err if we were to suppose that any of 
the streets and squares then bore the same aspect as at present. 
The great majority of the houses, indeed, have, since that time, 
been wholly, or in great part, rebuilt. If the most fashionable 
parts of the capital could be placed before us such as they then 
were, we should be disgusted by their squalid appearance, and 
poisoned by their noisome atmosphere. 

In Covent Garden a filthy and noisy market was held close 
to the dwellings of the great. Fruit women screamed, carters 

* Old General Oglethorpe, who died in 1785, used to boast that he had shot 
birds here in Anne's reign. See Pennant's London, and the Gentleman's Maga- 
zine for July, 1785. 

* The pest field will be seen in maps of London as late as the end of George 
the First's reign. 


fought, cabbage stalks and rotten apples accumulated in heaps 
at the thresholds of the Countess of Berkshire and of the 
Bishop of Durham.* 

The centre of Lincoln's Inn Fields was an open space where 
the rabble congregated every evening, within a few yards of 
Cardigan House and Winchester House, to hear mountebanks 
harangue, to see bears dance, and to set dogs at oxen. Rub- 
bish was shot in every part of the area. Horses were exer- 
cised there. The beggars were as noisy and importunate as in 
the worst governed cities of the Continent. A Lincoln's Inn 
mumper was a proverb. The whole fraternity knew the arms 
and liveries of every charitably disposed grandee in the neigh- 
bourhood, and as soon as his lordship's coach and six appeared, 
came hopping and crawling in crowds to persecute him. These 
disorders lasted, in spite of many accidents, and of some legal 
proceedings, till, in the reign of George the Second, Sir Joseph 
Jekyll, Master of the Rolls, was knocked down and nearly killed 
in the middle of the Square. Then at length palisades were 
set up, and a pleasant garden laid out.f 

Saint James's Square was a receptacle for all the offal and 
cinders, for all the dead cats and dead dogs of Westminster. At 
one time a cudgel player kept the ring there. At another time an 
impudent squatter settled himself there, and built a shed for rub- 
bish under the windows of the gilded saloons in which the first 
magnates of the realm, Norfolk, Ormond, Kent, and Pembroke, 
gave banquets and balls. It was not till these nuisances had 
lasted through a whole generation, and till much had been writ- 

* See a very curious plan of Covent Garden made about 1G90, and engraved 
for Smith's History of Westminster. See also Hogarth's Morning, painted while 
Borne of the houses in the Piazza were still occupied by people of fashion. 

t London Spy ; Tom Brown's comical View of London and Westminster ; 
Turner's Propositions for the employing of the Poor, 1678; Daily Courant and 
Daily Journal of June 7, 1733 ; Case of Michael v. Allestrec, in 1G76, 2 Levinz, p. 
172. Michael had been run over by two horses which Allestree was breaking in 
Lincoln's Inn Fields. The declaration set forth that the defendant " porta deux 
chivals ungovernable en un coach, et improvMe, incaute, et absque debita con 
sideratione ineptitudinis loci la eux drive pur eux faire tractable et apt pur 
un coach, quels chivals, pur ceo que, per leur ferocite,ne poientestre rule, curre 
eur le plaintiff et le noie." 


ten about them, that the inhabitants applied to Parliament for 
permission to put up rails, and to plant trees.* 

When such was the state of the region inhabited by the 
most luxurious portion of society, we may easily believe that the 
great body of the population suffered what would now be con- 
sidered as insupportable grievances. The pavement was detest- 
able : all foreigners cried shame upon it. The drainage was 
so bad that in rainy weather the gutters soon became torrents. 
Several facetious poets have commemorated the fury with which 
these black rivulets roared down Snow Hill and Ludgate Hill, 
bearing to Fleet Ditch a vast tribute of animal and vegetable 
filth from the stalls of butchers and greengrocers. This flood 
was profusely thrown to right and left by couches and carts. 
To keep as far from the carriage road as possible was therefore 
the wish of every pedestrian. The mild and timid gave the 
wall. The bold and athletic took it. If two roisterers met, 
they cocked their hats in each other's faces, and pushed each 
other about till the weaker was shoved towards the kennel. If 
he was a mere bully he sneaked off, muttering that he should 
find a time. If he was pugnacious, the encounter probably 
ended in a duel behind Montague House. t 

The houses were not numbered. There would indeed have 
been little advantage in numbering them ; for of the coachmen, 
chairmen, porters, and errand boys of London, a very small 
proportion could read. It was necessary to use marks which 
the most ignorant could understand. The shops were therefore 
distinguished by painted or sculptured signs, which gave a gay 
and grotesque aspect to the streets. The walk from Charing 
Cross to Whitechapel lay through an endless succession of Sar- 
acens' Heads, Royal Oaks, Blue Bears, and Golden Lambs, 
which disappeared when they were no longer required for the 
direction of the common people. 

* Stat. 12 Geo. I. c. 25 ; Commons' Journals. Feb. 25, March 2, 1725-6 ; London 
Gardener, 1712 ; Evening Post, March, 23, 1731. I have not been able to find this 
number of the Evening Post ; I therefore quote it on the faith of Mr. Malcoim, 
who mentions it in his History of London. 

t Lettres sur les Anglois, written early in the reign of William the Third ; 
Swift's City Shower ; Gay's Trivia. Johnson used to relate a curious conversation 
which he had with his mother about giving and taking the wall. 


When the evening closed in, the difficulty and danger of 
walking about London became serious indeed. The garret win- 
dows were opened, and pails were emptied, with little regard to 
tho.-e who were passing below. Falls, bruises and broken bones 
were of constant occurrence. For, till the last year of the reign 
of Charles the Second, .most of the streets were left in profound 
darkness. Thieves and robbers plied their trade with impunity : 
yet they were hardly so terrible to peaceable citizens as another 
class of ruffians. It was a favourite amusement of dissolute 
young gentlemen to swagger by night about the town, breaking 
windows, upsetting sedans, beating quiet men, and offering rude 
caresses to pretty women. Several dynasties of these tyrants 
had, since the Restoration, domineered over the streets. The 
Muns and Tityre Tus had given place to the Hectors, and the 
Hectors had been recently succeeded by the Scourers. At a 
later period arose the Nicker, the Hawcubite, and the yet more 
dreaded name of Mohawk.* The machinery for keeping the 
peace was utterly contemptible. There was an Act of Common 
Council which provided that more than a thousand watchmen 
should be constantly on the alert in the city, from sunset to 
sunrise, and that every inhabitant should take his turn of duty. 
But this Act was negligently executed. Few of those who were 
summoned left their homes ; and those few generally found it 
more agreeable to tipple in alehouses than to pace the streets. f 

It ought to be noticed that, in the last year of the reio-n of 
Charles the Second, began a great change in the police of Lon- 
don, a change which has perhaps added as much to the happiness 
of the body of the people as revolutions of much greater fame. 

* Oldham's Imitation of the 3d Satire of Juvenal, 16S2 ; Shadwell's Scourers, 
1600. Many other authorities will readily occur to all who are acquainted with 
the popular literature of that and the succeeding generation It may be suspected 
that som i of the Tityre Tus. like good Cavaliers, broke Milton's windows shortly 
af :ei the Restoration. I am confident that he was thinking of those pests of Lon- 
don when he dictated the noble lines: — 

"And in luxurious cities, when the noise 
Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers, 
And injury and outrage, and when night 
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the son* 
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine." 
t Seymour's London. 


An ingenious projector, named Edward Heming, obtained letters 
patent conveying to him, for a term of years, the exclusive right 
of lighting up London. lie undertook, for a moderate consid- 
eration, to place a light before every tenth door, on moonless 
nights, from Michaelmas to Lady Day, and from six to twelve 
of the clock. Those who now see the capital all the year 
round, from dusk to dawn, blazing with a splendour beside which 
the illuminations for La Hogue and Blenheim would have look- 
ed pale, may perhaps smile to think of Heming's lanterns, which 
glimmered feebly before one house in ten during a small part of 
one night in three. But such was not the feeling of his contem- 
poraries. His scheme was enthusiastically applauded, and 
furiously attacked. The friends of improvement extolled him 
as the greatest of all the benefactors of his city. What, they 
asked, were the boasted inventions of Archimedes, when com- 
pared with the achievement of the man who had turned the 
nocturnal shades into noon-day ? In spite of these eloquent eulo- 
gies the cause of darkness was not left undefended. There were 
fools in that age who opposed the introduction of what was called 
the new light as strenuously as fools in our age have opposed 
the introduction of vaccination and railroads, as strenuously as 
the fools of an age anterior to the dawn of history doubtless 
opposed the introduction of the plough and of alphabetical 
writing. Many years after the date of Heming's patent there 
were extensive districts in which no lamp was seen.* 

We may easily imagine what, in such times, must have been 
the state of the quarters of London which were peopled by the 
outcasts of society. Among those quarters one had attained a 
scandalous preeminence. On the confines of the City and the/ 
Temple had been founded, in the thirteenth century, a House o£ 
Carmelite Friars, distinguished bv their white hoods. The 
precinct of this house had, before the Reformation, been a 
sanctuary for criminals, and still retained the privilege of pro- 
tecting debtors from arrest. Insolvents consequently were to 
be found in every dwelling, from cellar to garret. Of these 

* Anglise Metropolis, 1690, Sect. 17, entitled, " Of the new lights " ; Seymour's 


a large proportion were knaves and libertines, and were follow- 
ed to their asylum by women more abandoned than themselves. 
The civil power was unable to keep order in a district swarmino- 
with such inhabitants ; and thus Whitefriars became the favour- 
ite resort of all who wished to be emancipated from the restraints 
of the law. Though the immunities legally belonging to the 
place extended only to cases of debt, cheats, false witnesses, for- 
gers, and highwaymen found refuge there. For amidst a rabble 
so desperate no peace officer's life was in safety. At the cry of 
" Rescue," bullies with swords and cudgels, and termagant hags 
with spits and broomsticks, poured forth by hundreds ; and the 
intruder was fortunate if .he escaped back into Fleet Street, 
hustled, stripped, and pumped upon. Even the warrant of the 
Chief Justice of England could not be executed without the 
help of a company of musketeers. Such relics of the barbarism 
of the darkest ages were to be found within a short walk of the 
chambers where Somers was studying history and law, of the 
chapel where Tillotson was preaching, of the coffee house where 
Dry den was passing judgment on poems and plays, and of the 
hall where the Royal Society was examining the astronomical 
system of Isaac Newton.* 

Each of the two cities which made up the capital of England 
had its own centre of attraction. In the metropolis of com- 
merce the point of convergence was the Exchange ; in the me- 
tropolis of fashion the Palace. But the Palace did not retain 
its influence so long as the Exchange. The Revolution com- 
pletely altered the relations between the Court and the higher 
classes of society. It was by degrees discovered that the King, 
in his individual capacity, had very little to give ; that coronets 
and garters, bishoprics and embassies, lordships of the Treasury 
and tellerships of the Exchequer, nay, even charges in the royal 
stud and bedchamber, were really bestowed, not by him, but by 
his advisers. Every ambitious and covetous man perceived 
that he would consult his own interest far better by acquiring 
the dominion of a Cornish borough, and by rendering good ser- 

* Stowe's Survey of London ; Shadwell's Squire of Alsatia ; Ward's London 
Spy ; Stat. 8 & 9 Gul. III. cap. 27. 


yice to the ministry during a critical session, than by becoming 
the companion, or even the minion, of his prince. It was there- 
fore in the antechambers, not of George the First and of George 
the Second, but of Walpole and of Pelharn, that the daily 
crowd of courtiers was to be found. It is also to be remarked 
that the same Revolution, which made it impossible that our 
Kings should use the patronage of the state merely for the pur- 
pose of gratifying their personal predilections, gave us several 
Kings unfitted by their education and habits to be gracious and 
affable hosts. They had been born and bred on the Continent. 
They never felt themselves at home in our island. If they 
spoke our language, they spoke it inelegantly and with 
effort. Our national character they never fully understood. 
Our national manners they hardly attempted to acquire. The 
most important part of their duty they performed better than 
any ruler who preceded them : for they governed strictly ac- 
cording to law : but they could not be the first gentlemen of the 
realm, the heads of polite society. If ever they unbent, it was 
in a very small circle where hardly an English face was to be 
seen ; and they were never so happy as when they could escape 
for a summer to their native land. They had indeed their days 
of reception for our nobility and gentry ; but the reception was 
a mere matter of form, and became at last as solemn a ceremony 
as a funeral. 

Not such was the court of Charles the Second. Whitehall, 
when he dwelt there, was the focus of political intrigue and 
of fashionable gaiety. Half the jobbing and half the flirting 
of the metropolis went on under his roof. Whoever could 
make himself agreeable to the prince, or could secure the good 
offices of the mistress, might hope to rise in the world without 
rendering any service to the government, without being even 
known by sight to any minister of state. This courtier got a 
frigate, and that a company % , a third, the pardon of a rich 
offender ; a fourth, a lease of crown land on easy terms. If 
the King notified his pleasure that a briefless lawyer should be 
made a judge, or that a libertine baronet should be made a 
peer, the gravest counsellors, after a little murmuring, sub- 


mitted.* Interest, therefore, drew a constant press of suitors 
to the gates of the palace ; and those gates always stood wide. 
The King kept open house every day, and all day long, for the 
good society of London, the extreme Whigs only excepted. 
Hardly any gentleman had any difficulty in making his way to 
the royal presence. The levee was exactly what the word 
imports. Some men of quality came every morning to stand 
round their master, to chat with him while his wig was combed 
and his cravat tied, and to accompany him in his early walk 
through the Park. All persons who had been properly intro- 
duced might, without any special invitation, go to see him dine, 
sap, dance, and play at hazard, and might have the pleasure of 
hearing him tell stories, which indeed he told remarkably well, 
about his flight from Worcester, and about the misery which he 
had endured when he was a state prisoner in the hands of the 
canting meddling preachers of Scotland. Bystanders whom 
His Majesty recognised often came in for a courteous word. 
This proved a far more successful kingcraft than any that his 
father or grandfather had practised. It was not easy for the 
most austere republican of the school of Marvel to resist the 
fascination of so much good humour and affability ; and many 
a veteran Cavalier, in whose heart the remembrance of unre- 
quited sacrifices and services had been festering during twenty 
years, was compensated in one moment for wounds and seques- 
trations by his sovereign's kind nod, and "God bless you, my 
old friend ! " 

Whitehall naturally became the chief staple of news. 
Whenever there was a rumour that anything important had 
happened or was about to happen, people hastened thither to 
obtain intelligence from the fountain head. The galleries 
presented the appearance of a modern club room at an anxious 
time. They were full of people enquiring whether the Dutch 
mail was in, what tidings the express from France had brought, 
whether John Sobiesky had beaten the Turks, whether the 

* See Sir Roger North's account of the way in which Wright was made a 
judge, and Clarendon's account of the way in which Sir George Savile was made 
a peer. 


Doge of Genoa was really at Paris. These were matters about 
which it was safe to talk aloud. But there were subjects con- 
cerning which information was asked and given in whispers. 
Had Halifax got the better of Rochester ? Was there to be a 
Parliament ? Was the Duke of York really going to Scotland ? 
iHad Monmouth really been summoned from the Hague ? Men 
tried to read the countenance of every minister as he went 
through the throng to and from the royal closet. All sorts of 
auguries were drawn from the tone in which His Majesty spoke 
to the Lord President, or from the laugh with which His 
Majesty honoured a jest of the Lord Privy Seal ; and in a few 
hours the hopes and fears inspired by such slight indications 
had spread to all the coffee houses from Saint James's to the 

The coffee house must not be dismissed with a cursory men- 
tion. It might indeed at that time have been not improperly 
called a most important political institution. No Parliament 
had sat for years The municipal council of the City had ceased 
to speak the sense of the citizens. Public meetings, harangues, 
resolutions, and the rest of the modern machinery of agitation 
had not yet come into fashion. Nothing resembling the modern 
newspaper existed. In such circumstances the coffee houses 
were the chief organs through which the public opinion of the 
metropolis vented itself. 

The first of these establishments had been set up by a Turkey 
merchant, who had acquired among the Mahometans a taste for 
their favourite beverage. The convenience of being able to 
make appointments in any part of the town, and of being able 
to pass evenings socially at a very small charge, was so great 
that the fashion spread fast. Every man of the upper or middle 
class went daily to his coffee house to learn the news and to dis- 
cuss it. Every coffee house had one or more orators to whose 
eloquence the crowd listened with admiration, and who soon be- 

* The Sources from which I have drawn my information about the state of 
the Court are too numerous to recapitulate. Among them are the Despatches 
of Barillon, Van Citters, Ronquillo, and Adda, the Travels of the Grand Duke 
Cosmo, the works of Roger North, the Diaries of Pepys, Evelyn, and Teonge, 
and the Memoirs of Grammont and Reresby. 


came, what the journalists of our time have been called, a fourth 
Estate of the realm. The Court had long seen with uneasiness 
the growth of this new power in the state. An attempt had 
been made, during Danby's administration, to close the coffee 
houses. But men of all parties missed their usual places of 
resort so much that there was an universal outcry. The govern- 
ment did not venture, in opposition to a feeling so strong and 
general, to enforce a regulation of which the legality might well 
be questioned. Since that time ten years had elapsed, and during 
those years the number and influence of the coffee houses had 
been constantly increasing. Foreigners remarked that the coffee 
house was that which especially distinguished London from all 
other cities ; that the coffee house was the Londoner's home, and 
that those who wished to find a gentleman commonly asked, 
not whether he lived in Fleet Street or Chancery Lane, but 
whether he frequented the Grecian or the Rainbow. Nobody 
was excluded from these places who laid down his penny at the 
bar. Yet every rank and profession, and every shade of religious 
and political opinion, had its own head quarters. There were 
houses near Saint James's Park where fops congregated, their 
heads and shoulders covered with black or flaxen wigs, not less 
ample than those which are now worn by the Chancellor and by 
the Speaker of the House of Commons. The wig came from 
Paris and so did the rest of the fine gentleman's ornaments, his em- 
broidered coat, his fringed gloves, and the tassel which upheld 
his pantaloons. The conversation was in that dialect which, 
long after it had ceased to be spoken in fashionable circles, con- 
tinued, in the mouth of Lord Foppington, to excite the mirth of 
theatres.* The atmosphere was like that of a perfumer's shop. 
Tobacco in any other form than that of richly scented snuff 
was held in abomination. If any clown, ignorant of the usages 
of the house, called for a pipe, the sneers of the whole assembly 
and the short answers of the waiters soon convinced him that he 

* The chief peculiarity of this dialect was that, in a large class of words, the 
O was pronounced like A. Thus Lord was pronounced Lard. See Vanbrugh's 
Relapse. Lord Sunderland was a great master of this court tune, as Roger 
North calls it ; and Titus Oates affected it in the hope of passing for a fine gentle 
man. Examen, 77, 25i. 


had better go somewhere else. Nor, indeed, would he have had 
far to go. For, in general the coffee rooms reeked with tobacco 
like a guardroom: and strangers sometimes expressed their 
surprise that so many people should leave their own firesides to 
sit in the midst of eternal fosr and stench. Nowhere was the 
smoking more constant than at Will's. That celebrated house, 
situated between Covent Garden and Bow Street, was sacred to 
polite letters. There the talk was about poetical justice and 
the unities of place and time. There was a faction for Perrault 
and the moderns, a faction for Boileau and the ancients. One 
group debated whether Paradise Lost ought not to have been in 
rhyme. To another an envious poetaster demonstrated that 
Venice Preserved ought to have been hooted from the stage. 
Under no roof was a greater variety of figures to be seen. 
There were Earls in stars and garters, clergymen in cassocks 
and bands, pert Templars, sheepish lads from the Universities, 
translators and index makers in rasped coats of frieze. The 
great press was to get near the chair where John Dryden sate. 
In winter that chair was always in the warmest nook by the fire ; 
in summer it stood in the balcony. To bow to the Laureate, 
and to hear his opinion of Racine's last tragedy or of Bossu's 
treatise on epic poetry, was thought a privilege. A pinch from 
his snuff box was an honour sufficient to turn the head of a young 
enthusaist. There were coffee houses where the first medical 
men might be consulted. Doctor John Radcliffe, who, in the 
year 1685, rose to the largest practice in London, came daily, at 
the hour when the Exchange was full, from his house in Bow 
Street, then a fashionable part of the capital, to Garraway's, 
and was to be found, surrounded by surgeons and apothecaries, 
at a particular table. There were Puritan coffee houses where 
no oath was heard, and where lankhaired men discussed election 
and reprobation through their noses ; Jew coffee houses where 
darkeyed money changers from Venice and Amsterdam greeted 
each other ; and Popish coffee houses where, as good Protestants 
believed, Jesuits planned, over their cups, another great fire, and 
cast silver bullets to shoot the King.* 

Lettres sur les Anglois ; Tom Brown's Tour ; "Ward's London Spy ; The Char- 


These gregarious habits had no small share in forming the 
character of the Londoner of that age. He was, indeed, a dif- 
ferent being from the rustic Englishman. There was not then 
the intercourse wnich now exists between the two classes. 
Only very great men were in the habit of dividing the year be- 
tween town and country. Few esquires came to the capital 
thrice in their lives. Nor was it j T et the practice of all citizens 
in easy circumstances to breathe the fresh air of the fields and 
woods during some weeks of every summer. A cockney, in a 
rural village, was stared at .as much as if he had intruded into a 
Kraal of Hottentots. On the other hand, when the lord of a 
Lincolnshire or Shropshire manor appeared in Fleet Street, he 
was as easily distinguished from the resident population as a 
Turk or a Lascar. His dress, his gait, his accent, the manner 
in which he gazed at the shops, stumbled into the gutters, ran 
against the porters, and stood under the waterspouts, marked 
him out as an excellent subject for the operations of swindlers 
and banterers. Bullies jostled him into the kennel. Hackney 
coachmen splashed him from head to foot. Thieves explored 
with perfect security the huge pockets of his horseman's coat, 
while he stood entranced by the splendour of the Lord Mayor's 
show. Moneydroppers, sore from the cart's tail, introduced 
themselves to him, and appeared to him the most honest friendly 
gentlemen that he had ever seen. Painted women, the refuse 
of Lewkner Lane and Whetstone Park, passed themselves on 
him for countesses and maids of honour. If he asked his way 
to Saint James's, his informants sent him to Mile End. If he 
went into a shop, he was instantly discerned to be a fit pur- 
chaser of everything that nobody else would buy, of second- 
hand embroidery, copper rings, and watches that would not go. 
If he rambled into any fashionable coffee house, he became a 
mark for the insolent derision of fops and the grave waggery 

Betel of a Coffee House, 1673 ; "Rules and Orders of the Coffee House, 1674 ; Cof- 
fee Houses vindicated, 1675 ; A Satyr against Coffee ; North's Examen, 1.38 ; Life 
of Guildford, 152 ; Life of Sir Dudley North, 140 ; Life of Dr. Radcliffe, published 
by Cnrll in 1715. The liveliest description of Will's is in the City and Country 
Mouse. There is a remarkable passage about the influence of the coffee house 
orators in Halstead's Succinct Genealogies, printed in 1G85. 



of Templars. Enraged and mortified, he soon returned to his 
mansion, and there, in the homage of his tenants and the con- 
versation of his boon companions, found consolation for the 
vexations and humiliations which he had undergone. There 
he was once more a great man, and saw nothing above himself 
except when at the assizes he took his seat on the bench near 
the Judge, or when at the muster of the militia he saluted the 
Lord Lieutenant. 

The chief cause which made the fusion of the different ele- 
ments of society so imperfect was the extreme difficulty which 
our ancestors found in passing from place to place. Of all in- 
ventions, the alphabet and the printing press alone excepted, 
those inventions which abridge distance have done most for the 
civilisation of our species. Every improvement of the means 
of locomotion benefits mankind morally and intellectually as 
well as materially, and not only facilitates the interchange of 
the various productions of nature and art, but tends to remove 
national and provincial antipathies, and to bind together all the 
branches of the great human family. In the seventeenth cem 
tury the inhabitants of London were, for almost every practical 
purpose, farther from Reading than they now are fcom Edin- 
burgh, and farther from Edinburgh than they now are from 

The subjects of Charles the Second were not, it is true, 
quite unacquainted with that principle which has, in our own 
time, produced an unprecedented revolution in human affairs, 
which has enabled navies to advance in face of wind and tide, 
and brigades of troops, attended by all tneir baggage and artil- 
lerv, to traverse kingdoms at a pace equal to that of the fleetest 
race horse. The Marquess of Worcester had recently observed 
the expansive power of moisture rarefied by heat. After many 
experiments he had succeeded in constructing a rude steam en- 
gine, which he called a fire water work, and which he pro- 
nounced to be an admirable and most forcible instrument of 
propulsion.* But the Marquess was suspected to be a mad- 

* Century of Inventions, 1C63, No. 68, 


man, and known to be a Papist. His inventions, therefore 
found no favourable reception. His fire water work might, 
perhaps, furnish matter for conversation at a meeting of the 
Royal Society, but was not applied to any practical purpose. 
There were no railways, except a few made of timber, on which 
coals were carried from the mouths of the Northumbrian pits 
to the banks of the Tyne. # There was very little internal 
communication by water. A few attempts had been made to 
deepen and embank the natural streams, but with slender suc- 
cess. Hardly a single navigable canal had been even projected. 
The English of that day were in the habit of talking with 
mingled admiration and despair of the immense trench by which 
Lewis the Fourteenth had made a junction between the Atlan- 
tic and the Mediterranean. They little thought that their 
country would, in the course of a few generations, be inter- 
sected, at the cost of private adventurers, by artificial rivers 
making up more than four times the length of the Thames, the 
Severn, and the Trent together. 

It was by the highways that both travellers and goods gen- 
erally passed from place to place ; and those highways appear 
to have been far worse than might have been expected from the 
degree of wealth and civilisation which the nation had even then 
attained. On the best lines of communication the ruts were 
deep, the descents precipitous, and the way often such as it was 
hardly possible to distinguish, in the dusk, from the unenclosed 
heath and fen which lay on both sides. Ralph Thorseby, the 
antiquary, was in danger of losing his way on the great North 
road, between Barnby Moor and Tuxford, and actually lost his 
way between Doncaster and York-t Pepys and his wife, trav- 
elling in their own coach, lost their way between Newbury and 
Reading. In the course of the same tour they lost their way 
near Salisbury, and were in danger of having to pass the night 
on the plain. t It was only in fine weather that the whole 
breadth of the road was available for wheeled vehicles. Often 

* North's Life of Guildford, 136. 

t Thoresby's Diary, Oct. 21, 1680, Aug. 3, 1712. 

% Pepys's Diary, June 12 and 16, 1668. 


the mud lay deep on the right and the left ; and only a narrow 
track of firm ground rose above the quagmire.* At such times 
obstructions and quarrels were frequent, and the path was some- 
times blocked up during a long time by carriers, neither of 
whom would break the way. It happened, almost every day, 
that coaches stuck fast, until a team of cattle could be procured 
from some neighbouring farm, to tug them out of the slough. 
But in bad seasons the traveller had to encounter inconven- 
iences still more serious. Thoresby, who was in the habit of 
travelling between Leeds and the capital, has recorded, in his 
Diary, such a series of perils and disasters as might suffice for a 
journey to the Frozen Ocean or to the Desert of Sahara. On 
one occasion he learned that the floods were out between Ware 
and London, that passengers had to swim for their lives, and 
that a higgler had perished in the attempt to cross. In conse- 
quence of these tidings he turned out of the high road, and was 
conducted across some meadows, where it was necessary for him 
to ride to the saddle skirts in water.f In the course of another 
journey he narrowly escaped being swept away by an inunda- 
tion of the Trent. He was afterwards detained at Stamford 
four days, on account of the state of the roads, and then ven- 
tured to proceed only because fourteen members of the House 
of Commons, who were going up in a body to Parliament with 
guides and numerous attendants, took him into their company. $ 
On the roads of Derbyshire, travellers were in constant fear for 
their necks, and were frequently compelled to alight and lead 
their beasts. § The great route through Wales to Holyhead 
was in such a state that, in 1685, a viceroy, going to Ireland, 
was five hours in travelling fourteen miles, from Saint Asaph to 
Conway. Between Conway and Beaumaris he was forced to 
walk a great part of the way ; and his lady was carried in a litter. 
His coach was, with much difficulty, and by the help of many 
hands, brought after him entire. In general, carriages were 

* Ibid. Feb. 28, 1660. 
f Thore^by's Diary, May 17, 1695. 
t IMd. Dec. 27. 1708. 

§ Tour in Derbyshire, by J. Browne, son of Sir Thomas Browne, 1662 ; Cot- 
ton's Angler, 1676. 


taken to pieces at Conway, and borne, on the shoulders of stout 
Welsh peasants, to the Menai Straits.* In some parts of Kent 
and Sussex, none but the strongest horses could, in winter, get 
through the bog, in which, at every step, they sank deep. The 
markets were often inaccessible during several months. It is 
said that the fruits of the earth were sometimes suffered to rot 
in one place, while in another place, distant only a few miles, 
the supply fell far short of the demand. The wheeled carriages 
were, in this district, generally pulled by oxen.f When Prince 
George of Denmark visited the stately mansion of Petworth in 
wet weather, he was six hours in goifTg nine miles ; and it was 
necessary that a body of sturdy hinds should be on each side of 
his coach, in order to prop it. Of the carriages which conveyed 
his retinue several were upset and injured. A letter from one 
of the party has been preserved, in which the unfortunate 
courtier complains that, during fourteen hours, he never, once 
alighted, except when his coach was overturned or stuck fast in 
the mud.t 

One chief cause of the badness of the roads seems to have 
been the defective state of the law. Every parish was bound 
to repair the highways which passed through it. The peasantry 
were forced to give their gratuitous labour six days in the year. 
If this was not sufficient, hired labour was employed, and the 
expense was met by a parochial rate. That a route connecting 
two great towns, which have a large and thriving trade with 
each other, should be maintained at the cost of the rural pop- 
ulation scattered between them is obviously unjust ; and this 
injustice was peculiarly glaring in the case of the great North 
road, which traversed very poor and thinly inhabited districts, 
and joined very rich and populous districts. Indeed it was not 
in the power of the parishes of Huntingdonshire to mend a high- 
way worn by the constant traffic between the West Riding of 
Yorkshire and London. Soon after the Restoration this griev- 

* Correspondence of Henry Earl of Clarendon, Dec. 30, 1685, Jan. 1, 1686. 
t Postlethwaite's Dictionary, Iioads ; History of Hawkhurst, in the Biblio- 
theca Topo-praphica Britannica. 

t Annals of Queen Anne, 1703, Appendix, No. 3. 


ance attracted the notice of Parliament ; and an act, the first 
of our many turnpike acts, was passed, imposing a small toll on 
travellers and goods, for the purpose of keeping some parts of 
this important line of communication in good repair.* This 
innovation, however, excited many murmurs ; and the other 
great avenues to the capital were long left under the old system. 
A change was at length effected, but not withouc much diffi- 
culty. For unjust and absurd taxation to which men are ac- 
customed is often borne far more willingly than the most reason- 
able impost which is new. It was not till many toll bars had 
been violently pulled down, till the troops had in many districts 
been forced to act against the people, and till much blood had 
been shed, that a good system was introduced-! By slow 
degrees reason triumphed over prejudice ; and our island is now 
crossed in every direction by near thirty thousand miles of turn- 
pike road. 

On the best highways heavy articles were, in the time of 
Charles the Second, generally conveyed from place to place by 
stasje waggons. In the straw of these vehicles nestled a crowd 
of passengers, who could not afford to travel by coach or on 
horseback, and who were prevented by infirmity, or by the 
weight of their luggage, from going on foot. The expense of 
transmitting heavy goods in this way was enormous. From 
London to Birmingham the charge was seven pounds a ton ; 
from London to Exeter twelve pounds a ton.J This was about 
fifteen pence a ton for every mile, more by a third than was 
afterwards charged on turnpike roads, and fifteen times what is 
now demanded by railway companies. The cost of conveyance 
amounted to a prohibitory tax on many useful articles. Coal 
in particular was never seen except in the districts where it 
was produced, or in the districts to which it could be carried by 
sea, and was indeed always known in the south of England by 
the name of sea coal. 

* 15 Car. II. c. 1. 

t The evils of the old system are strikingly set forth in many petitions which 
appear in the Commons' Journal of 1725., How fierce an opposition was offered 
to the new system may he learned from the Gentleman's Magazine of 1749. 

X Postlethwaite's Diet., Roads. 


On byroads, and generally throughout the country north of 
York and west of Exeter, goods were carried by long trains of 
packhorses. These strong and patient beasts, the breed of 
which is now extinct, were attended by a class of men who 
seem to have borne much resemblance to the Spanish mule- 
teers. A traveller of humble condition often found it conve- 
nient to perform a journey mounted on a packsaddle between 
two baskets, under the care of these hardy guides. The ex- 
pense of this mode of conveyance was small. But the caravan 
moved at a foot's pace ; and in winter the cold was often insup- 

The ricli commonly travelled in their own carriages, with 
at least four horses. Cotton, the facetious poet, attempted to 
go from London to the Peak with a single pair, but found at 
Saint Albans that the journey would be insupportably tedious, 
and altered his plan.f A coach and six is in our time never 
seen, except as part of some •■pageant. The frequent mention 
therefore of such equipages in old books is likely to mislead 
us. We attribute to magnificence what was really the effect 
of a very disagreeable necessity. People, in the time of Charles 
the Second, travelled with six horses, because with a smaller 
number there was great danger of sticking fast in the mire. 
Nor were even six horses always sufficient. Vanbrugh, in the 
succeeding generation, described with great humour the way in 
which a country gentleman, newly chosen a member of Parlia- 
ment, went up to London. On that occasion all the exertions 
of six beasts, two of which had been taken from the plough, 
could not save the family coach from being embedded in a 

Public carriages had recently been much improved. During 
the years which immediately followed the Restoration, a dili- 
gence ran between London and Oxford in two days. The 
passengers slept at Beaconsfield.. At length, in the spring of 
1669, a great and daring innovation was attempted. It was 

* Loidis and Elmete ; Marshall's Rural Economy of England, In 1739 Roderic 
Random came from Scotland to Newcastle on a packhorse., 
t Cotton's Epistle to J. Bradshaw. 


announced that a vehicle, described as the Flying Coach, would 
perform the whole journey between sunrise and sunset. This 
spirited undertaking was solemnly considered and sanctioned by 
the Heads of the University, and appears to have excited the 
same sort of interest which is excited in our own time by the 
opening of a new railway. The Vicechancellor, by a notice 
affixed in all public places, prescribed the hour and place of 
departure. The success of the experiment was complete. At 
six in the morning the carriage began to move from before the 
ancient front of All Souls College ; and at seven in the evening 
the adventurous gentlemen who had run the first risk were 
safely deposited at their inn in London.* The emulation of 
the sister University was moved ; and soon a diligence was set 
up which in one day carried passengers from Cambridge to the 
capital. At the close of the reign of Charles the Second, flying 
carriages ran thrice a week from London to the chief towns. 
But no stage coach, indeed no stage waggon, appears to have 
proceeded further north than York, or further west than Exeter. 
The ordinary day's journey of a flying coach was about fifty 
miles in the summer ; but in winter, when the ways were bad 
and the nights long, little more than thirty. The Chester 
coach, the York coach, and the Exeter coach generally reached 
London in four days during the fine season, but at Christmas 
not till the sixth day. The passengers, six in number, were all 
seated in the carriage. For accidents were so frequent that it 
would have been most perilous to mount the roof. The ordinary 
fare was about twopence halfpenny a mile in summer, and some- 
what more in winter. t 

Tins mode of travelling, which by Englishmen of the pres- 
ent day would be regarded as insufferably slow, seemed to our 
ancestors wonderfully and indeed alarmingly rapid. In a work 
published a few months before the death of Charles the SecondV 
the flying coaches are extolled as far superior to any similar 
vehicles ever known in the world. Their velocity is the subject 

* Anthony a Wood's Life of himself 

t Chamberlayne's State of England, 16*4. See also the list of stage coacheB 
and waggons at the end of the book, entitled Angliae Metropolis, 1690. 


of special commendation, and is triumphantly contrasted with 
the slu^ish pace of the continental posts. But with boasts like 
these was mingled the sound of complaint and invective. The 
interests of large classes had been unfavourably affected by the 
establishment of the -new diligences ; and, as usual, many per- 
sons were, from mere stupidity and obstinacy, disposed to 
clamour against the innovation, simply because it was an inno- 
vation. It was vehemently argued that this mode of convey- 
ance would be fatal to the breed of horses and to the noble art 
of horsemanship ; Chat the Thames, which had long been an 
important nursery of seamen, would cease to be the chief thorough- 
fare from London up to Windsor and down to Gravesend ; that 
saddlers and spurriers would be ruined ry hundreds ; that 
numerous inns, at which mounted travellers had been in the 
habit of stopping, would be deserted, and would no longer pay 
any rent ; that the new carriages were too hot in summer and 
too cold in winter ; that the passengers were grievously annoyed 
by invalids and crying children ; that the coach sometimes 
reached the inn so late that it was impossible to get supper, 
and sometimes started so early that it was impossible to get 
breakfast. On these grounds it was gravely recommended 
that no public coach should be permitted to have more than 
four horses, to start oftener than once a week, or to go more 
than thirty miles a clay. It was hoped that, if this regulation 
were adopted, all except the sick and. the lame would return to 
the old mode of travelling. Petitions embodying such opinions 
as these were presented to the King in council from several 
companies of the City of London, from several provincial towns, 
and from the justices of several counties. We smile at these 
things. It is not impossible that our descendants, when they 
read the history of the opposition offered by cupidity and preju- 
dice to the improvements of the nineteenth century, may smile 
in their turn.* 

* John Cresset's Reasons for suppressing Stage Coaches, 1672. These reasons 
were afterwards inserted in a tract, entitled (i The Grand Concern of England 
explained, 1673." Cresset's attack on stago coaches called forth some answers 
which I have consulted. 


In spite of the attractions of the flying coaches, it was still 
usual for men who enjoyed health and vigour, and who were 
not encumbered by much baggage, to perform long journeys on 
horseback. If the traveller wished to move expeditiously he 
rode post. Fresh saddle horses and guides were to be procured 
at convenient distances along all the great lines of road. The 
charge was threepence a mile for each horse, and fourpence a 
stage for the guide. In this manner, when the ways were good, 
it was possible to travel, for a considerable time, as rapidly as 
by any conveyance known in England, till vehicles were pro- 
pelled by steam. There were as yet no post chaises ; nor could 
those who rode in their own coaches ordinarily procur.e a change 
of horses. The King, however, and the great officers of state 
were able to command relays. Thus Charles commonly went 
in one day from Whitehall to New-market, a distance of about 
fifty-five miles through a level country ; and this was thought 
by his subjects a proof of great activity. Evelyn performed 
the same journey in company with the Lord Treasurer Clifford. 
The coach was drawn by six horses, which were changed at 
Bishop Stortford and again at Chesterford. The travellers 
reached Newmarket at night. Such a mode of conveyance 
seems to have been considered as a rare luxury confined to 
princes and ministers.* 

Whatever might be the way in which a journey was per- 
formed, the travellers, unless they were numerous and well 
armed, ran considerable risk of being stopped and plundered. 
The mounted highwayman, a marauder known to our genera- 
tion only from books, was to be found on every main road. 
The waste tracts which lay on the great routes near London 
were especially haunted by plunderers of this class. Hounslow 
Heath, on the Great Western Road, and Finchley Common, on 
the Great Northern Road, were perhaps the most celebrated of 
these spots. The Cambridge scholars trembled when they ap- 
proached Epping Forest, even in broad daylight. Seamen who 
had just been paid off at Chatham were often compelled to 

* Chamberlayne's State of England, 16S4 ; North's Examen, 105 ; Evelyn's 
Diary, Oct. 9, 10, 1671. 


deliver their purses on Gadshill, celebrated near a hundred 
years earlier by the greatest of poets as the scene of the depre- 
dations of Falstaff. The public authorities seem to have been 
often at a loss how to deal with the plunderers. At one time 
it was announced in the Gazette, that several persons, who 
were strongly suspected of being highwaymen, but against 
whom there was not sufficient evidence, would be paraded at 
Newgate in riding dresses : their horses would also be shown ; 
and all gentlemen who had been robbed were invited to inspect 
this singular exhibition. On another occasion a pardon was 
publicly offered to a robber if he would give up some rough 
diamonds, of immense value, which he had taken when he 
stopped the Harwich mail. A short time after appeared another 
proclamation, warning the innkeepers that the eye of the gov- 
ernment was upon them. Their criminal connivance, it was 
affirmed, enabled banditti to infest the roads with impunity. 
That these suspicions were not without foundation, is proved 
by the dying speeches of some penitent robbers of that age, 
who appear to have received from the innkeepers services 
much resembling those which Farquhar's Boniface rendered to 

It was necessary to the success and even to the safety of 
the highwayman that he should be a bold and skilful rider, 
and that his manners and appearance should be such as suited 
the master of a fine horse. He therefore held an aristpcratical 
position in the community of thieves, appeared at fashionable 
coffee houses and gaming houses, and betted with men of quality 
on the race ground. t Sometimes, indeed, he was a man of 
good family and education. A romantic interest therefore at- 
tached, and perhaps still attaches, to the names of freebooters 
of this class. The vulgar eagerly drank in tales of their ferocity 
and audacity, of their occasional acts of generosity and good 

* See the London Gazette, May 14, 1677, August 4, 1C87, Dec. 5, 1G87. The 
last confession of Augustin King, who was the son of an eminent divine, and 
had been educated at Cambridge but was hanged at Colchester in March, 1C88, is 
highly curious, 
t Aimwell. Pray sir, han't I seen your face at Will's coffeehouse? 
Gibbet. Yes. sir, and at White's too.— Beaux' Stratagem. 


nature, of their amours, of their miraculous escapes, of their des- 
perate struggles, and of their manly bearing at the bar and in the 
cart. Thus it was related of William Nevison, the great robber of 
Yorkshire, that he levied a quarterly tribute on all the northern 
drovers, and,in return, not only spared them himself,but protected 
them against all other thieves ; that he demanded purses in the 
most courteous manner ; that he gave largely to the poor what he 
had taken from the rich ; that his life was once spared by the royal 
clemency, but that he again tempted his fate, and at length died, 
in IG80, on the gallows of York.* It was related how Claude 
Duval, the French page of the Duke of Richmond, took to the 
road, became captain of a formidable gang, and had the honour 
to be named first in a royal proclamation against notorious 
offenders ; how at the head of his troop he stopped a lady's 
coach, in which there was a booty of four hundred pounds ; how 
he took only one hundred, and suffered the fair owner to ransom 
the rest by dancing a corauto with him on the heath ; how -his 
vivacious gallantry stole away the hearts of all women ; how 
his dexterity at sword and pistol made him a terror to all men ; 
how, at length, in the year 1670, he was seized when overcome 
by wine ; how dames of high rank visited him in prison, and 
with tears interceded for his life ; how the King would have 
granted a pardon, but for the interference of Judge Morton, the 
terror of highwaymen, who threatened to resign his office unless 
the law were carried into full effect ; and how, after the execu- 
tion, the corpse lay in state with all the pomp of scutcheons, 
wax lights, black hangings and mutes, till the same cruel Judge, 
who had intercepted the mercy of the crown, sent officers to dis- 
turb the obsequies. f In these anecdotes there is doubtless a 
large mixture of fable ; but they are not on that account 
unworthy of being recorded ; for it is both an authentic and an 

* Gent's History of York. Another marauder of the same description, named 
Piss, was hanged at Salisbury in 1695. In a ballad which is in the Pepysian 
Library, he is represented as defending himself thus before the Judge : 

"What say you now, my honoured Lord, 
What harm was there in this ? 
Rich, wealthy misers were abhorred 
By brave, freehearted Biss." 

t Pope's Memoirs of Duval, published immediately after the execution. Oates's 
Tuk(jv paoihuv, Part I. 


important fact that such tales, whether false or true, were heard 
by our ancestors with eagerness and faith. 

All the various dangers by which the traveller was beset 
were greatly increased by darkness. He was therefore com- 
monly desirous of having the shelter of a roof during the night ; 
and such shelter it was not difficult to obtain. From a very 
early period the inns of England had been renowned. Our 
first great poet had described the excellent accommodation which 
they afforded to the pilgrims of the fourteenth century. Nine 
and twenty persons, with their horses, found room in the wide 
chambers and stables of the Tabard in Southwark. The food 
was of the best, and the wines such as drew the company on to 
drink largely. Two hundred years later, under the reigu of Eliza- 
beth, William Harrison gave a lively description of the plenty 
and comfort of the great hostelries. The Continent of Europe, he 
said, could show nothing like them. There were some in which 
two or three hundred people, with their horses, could without 
difficulty be lodged and fed. The bedding, the tapestry, above 
all, the abundance of clean and fine linen was matter of wonder. 
Valuable plate was often set on the tables. Nay, there were 
signs which had cost thirty or forty pounds. In the seventeenth 
century England abounded with excellent inns of every rank. 
The traveller sometimes, in a small village, lighted on a public 
house such as Walton has described, where the brick floor was 
swept clean, where the walls were stuck round with ballads, 
where the sheets smelt of lavender, and where a blazing fire, a 
cup of good ale, and a dish of trouts fresh from the neighbour- 
ing brook, were to be procured at small charge. At the larger 
houses of entertainment were to be found beds hung with silk, 
choice cookery, and claret equal to the best which was drunk 
in London.* The innkeepers too, it was said, .were not like 
other innkeepers. On the Continent the landlord was the tyrant 
of those who crossed the threshold. In England he was a ser- 
vant. Never was an Englishman more at home than when he 

* See the prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Harrison's Historical Description 
of the Island of Great Britain, and Pepys's account of his tour in the summer of 
1668. The excellence of the English inns is noticed in the Travels of the Grand 
Duke Cosmo. 


took his ease in his inn. Even men of fortune, who miorht in* 
their own mansions have enjoyed every luxury, were often in 
the habit of passing their evenings in the parlour of some neigh- 
bouring house of public entertainment. They seem to have 
thought that comfort and freedom could in no other place be 
enjoyed with equal perfection. This feeling continued during 
many generations to be a national peculiarity. The liberty and 
jollity of inns long furnished matter to our novelists and drama- 
tists. Johnson declared that a tavern chair was the throne of 
human felicity ; and Shenstone gently complained that no private 
roof, however friendly, gave the wanderer so warm a welcome 
as that which was to be found at an inn. 

Many conveniences, which were unknown at Hampton Court 
and Whitehall in the seventeenth century, are in all modern 
hotels. Yet on the whole it is certain that the improvement of 
our houses of public entertainment has by no means kept pace 
with the improvement of our roads and of our conveyances. 
Nor is this strange ; for it is evident that, all other circumstances 
being supposed equal, the inns will be best where the means of 
locomotion are worst. The quicker the rate of travelling, the 
less important is it that there should be numerous agreeable 
resting places for the traveller. A hundred and sixty years ago 
a person who came up to the capital from a remote county gener- 
ally required, by the way, twelve or fifteen meals, and lodging 
for five or six nights. If he were a great man, he expected the 
meals and lodging to be comfortable, and even luxurious. At 
present we fly from York or Exeter to London by the light of 
a single winter's day. At present, therefore, a traveller sel- 
dom interrupts his journey merely for the sake of rest and re- 
freshment. The consequence is that hundreds of excellent inns 
have fallen into utter decay. In a short time no good houses 
of that description will be found, except at places where strangers 
are likely to be detained by business or pleasure. 

The mode in which correspondence was carried on between 
distant places may excite the scorn of the present generation; 
yet it was such as might have moved the admiration and envy 
of the polished nations of antiquity, or of the contemporaries 


of Raleigh and Cecil. A rude arid imperfect establishment of 
posts for the conveyance of letters had been set up by Charles 
the First, and had been swept away by the civil war. Under 
the Commonwealth the design was resumed. At the Restoration 
the proceeds of the Post Office, after all expenses had been 
paid, were settled on the Duke of York. On most lines of road 
the mails went out and came in only on the alternate days. In 
Cornwall, in the fens of Lincolnshire,, and among the hills and 
lakes of Cumberland, letters were received only once a week. 
During a royal progress a daily post was despatched from the 
capital to the place where the court sojourned. There was also 
daily communication between London and the Downs ; and the 
same privilege was sometimes extended to Tunbridge Wells and 
Bath at the seasons when those places were crowded by the 
great. The bags were carried on horseback day and night at 
the rate of about five miles an hour.* 

The revenue of this establishment was not derived solely 
from the charge for the transmission of letters. The Post 
Office alone was entitled to furnish post horses ; and, from the 
care with which this monopoly was guarded, we may infer that 
it was found profitable, f If, indeed, a traveller had waited half 
an hour without being supplied he might hire a horse wherever 
he could. 

To facilitate correspondence between one part of London 
and another was not originally one of the objects of the Post 
Office. But, in the reign of Charles the Second, an enterpris- 
ing citizen of London, William Dockwray, set up, at great ex- 
pense, a penny post, which delivered letters and parcels six or 
eight times a day in the busy and crowded streets near the Ex- 
change, and four times a day in the outskirts of the capital. 
This improvement was, as usual, strenuously resisted. The 
porters complained that their interests were attacked, and tore 
down the placards in which the scheme was announced to the 
public. The excitement caused by Godfrey's death, and by the 

* Stat. 12 Car. II. c. 35 ; Chamberlayne's State of England, 1684 ; Anglian Me- 
tropolis, 1G90 ; London Gazette, June 22, 1685, August 15, 1687. 
t Lond. Gaz., Sept. 14, 1685. 


discovery of Coleman's papers, was then at the height. A cry 
was therefore raised that the penny post was a Popish contriv- 
ance. The great Doctor Oates, it was affirmed, had hinted a 
suspicion that the Jesuits were at the bottom of the scheme, 
and that the bags, if examined, would be found full of treason.* 
The utility of the enterprise was, however, so great and obvious 
that all opposition proved fruitless. As soon as it became clear 
that the speculation would be lucrative, the Duke of York com- 
plained of it as an infraction of his monopoly ; and the courts 
of law decided in his favour, t 

The revenue of the Post Office was from the first constantly 
increasing. In the year of the Restoration a committee of the 
House of Commons, after strict enquiry, had estimated the net 
receipt at about twenty thousand pouuds. At the close of the 
reign of Charles the Second, the net receipt was little short of 
fifty thousand pounds ; and this was then thought a stupendous 
sum. The gross receipt was about seventy thousand pounds. 
The charge for conveying a single letter was twopence for 
eighty miles, and threepence for a longer distance. The postage 
increased in proportion to the weight of the packet. $ At pre- 
sent a single letter is carried to the extremitv of Scotland or of 
Ireland for a penny ; and the monopoly of post horses has long 
ceased to exist. Yet. the gross annual receipts of the depart- 
ment amount to more than eighteen hundred thousand pounds, 
and the net receipts to more than seven hundred thousand 
pounds. It is, therefore, scarcely possible to doubt that the 
number of letters now conveyed by mail is seventy times the 
number which was so conveyed at the time of the accession of 
James the Second. § 

No part of the load which the old mails carried out was 
more important than the newsletters. In 1685 nothing like the 

* Smith's Current Intelligence, March 30, and April 3, 1680. 

t Anglire Metropolis, 1G90. 

$ Commons' Journals, Sept-. 4. 1660, March 1, 1688-9; Chamberlayne, 1684;' on the Public Revenue, Discourse IV. 

§ I have left the text as it stood in 1S48. In the year 1856 the gross receipt of 
the Post Oflice was more than 2.800,000/.; and the net receipt was about 1,200,000/. 
The number of letters conveyed by post was 478,000,000. (1857). 


London daily paper of our time existed, or could exist. Neither 
the necessary capital nor the necessary skill was to be found. 
Freedom too was wanting, a want as fatal as that of either 
capital or skill. The press was not indeed at that moment 
under a general censorship. The licensing act, which had been 
passed soon after the Restoration, had expired in 1679. Any 
person might therefore print, at his own risk, a history, a ser- 
mon, or a poem, without the previous approbation of any officer ; 
but the Judges were unanimously of opinion that this liberty 
did not extend to Gazettes, and that, by the common law of 
England, no man, not authorised by the crown, had a right to 
publish political news.* While the Whig party was still for- 
midable, the government thought it expedient occasionally to 
connive at the violation of this rule. During the great battle 
of the Exclusion Bill, many newspapers were suffered to appear, 
the Protestant Intelligence, the Current Intelligence, the 
Domestic Intelligence, the True News, the London Mercury, f 
None of these was published oftener than twice a week. None 
exceeded in size a single small leaf. The quantity of matter 
which one of them contained in a year was not more than is 
often found in two numbers of the Times. After the defeat of 
the Whigs it was no longer necessary for the King to be spar- 
ing in the use of that which all his Judges had pronounced to 
be his undoubted prerogative. At the close of his reign no 
newspaper was suffered to appear without his allowance : and 
his allowance was given exclusively to the London Gazette. The 
London Gazette came out only on Mondays and Thursdays. 
The contents generally were a royal proclamation, two or three 
Tory addresses, notices of two or three promotions, an account 
of a skirmish between the imperial troops and the Janissaries 
on the Danube, a description of a highwayman, an announce- 
ment of a grand cockfight between two persons of honour, and 
an advertisement offering a reward for a strayed dog. The 
whole made up two pages of moderate size. Whatever was 

* London Gazette, May 5, and 17, 1680. 

t There is a very curious, and, I should think, unique collection of these 
papers in the British Museum. 



communicated respecting matters of the highest moment was 
communicated in the most meagre and formal style. Some- 
times, indeed, when the government was disposed to gratify the 
public curiosity respecting an important transaction, a broadside 
was put forth giving fuller details than could be found in the 
Gazette : but neither the Gazette nor any supplementary broad- 
side printed by authority ever contained any intelligence which 
it did not suit the purposes of the Court to publish. The most 
important parliamentary debates, the most important state trials 
recorded in our history, were passed over in profound silence.* 
In the capital the coffee houses supplied in some measure the 
place of a journal. Thither the Londoners flocked, as the Athe- 
nians of old flocked to the market place, to hear whether there 
was any news. There men might learn how brutally a "Whig 
had been treated the day before in "Westminster Hall, what hor- 
rible accounts the letters from Edinburgh gave of the torturing 
of Covenanters, how grossly the Navy Board had cheated 
the crown in the victualling of the fleet, and what grave charges 
the Lord Privy Seal had brought against the Treasury in the 
matter of the hearth money. But people who lived at a dis- 
tance from the great theatre of political contention could be 
kept regularly informed of what was passing there only by 
means of newsletters. To prepare such letters became a calling 
in London, as it now is among the natives of India. The news- 
writer rambled from coffee room to coffee room, collecting re- 
ports, squeezed himself into the Sessions House at the Old 
Bailey if there was an interesting trial, nay perhaps obtained 
admission to the gallery of "Whitehall, and noticed how the 
King and Duke looked. In this way he gathered materials for 
weekly epistles destined to enlighten some county town or 
some bench of rustic magistrates. Such were the sources from 
which the inhabitants of the largest provincial cities, and the 
great body of the gentry and clergy, learned almost all that 
they knew of the history of their own time. We must suppose 

* For example, there is not a word in the Gazette about the important parlia- 
mentary proceedings of November, 1G85, or about the trial and acquittal of tha 
Seven Bishops. 


that at Cambridge there were as many persons curious to know 
what was passing in the world as at almost any place in the king- 
dom, out of London. Yet at Cambridge, during a great part of 
the reign of Charles the Second, the Doctors of Laws and the 
Masters of Arts had no regular supply of news except through 
the London Gazette. At length the services of one of the col- 
lectors of intelligence in the capital were employed. That was 
a memorable day on which the first newsletter from London 
was laid on the table of the only coffee room in Cambridge. * 
At the seat of a man of fortune in the country the newsletter 
was impatiently expected. Within a week after it had arrived 
it had been thumbed by twenty families. It furnished the 
neighboring squires with matter for talk over their October, 
and the neighboring rectors with topics for sharp sermons 
against Whiggery or Popery. Many of these curious journals 
might doubtless still be detected by a diligent search in the 
archives of old families. Some are to be found in our public 
libraries ; and one series, which is not the least valuable part 
of the literary treasures collected by Sir James Mackintosh, 
will be occasionally quoted in the course of this work.f 

It is scarcely necessary to say that there were then no 
provincial newspapers. Indeed, except in the capital and at the 
two Universities, there was scarcely a printer in the kingdom. 
The only press in England north of Trent appears to have been 
at York.* 

* Roger North's Life of Dr. John North. On the subject of newsletters, see 
the Examen, 133. 

t I take this opportunity of expressing my warm gratitude to the family of my 
dear and honoured friend Sir James Mackintosh for confiding to me the materials 
collected by him at a time when he meditated a work similar to that which I 
have undertaken. I have never seen, and I do not believe that there anywhere 
exists, within the same compass, so noble a collection of extracts from public and 
private archives. The judgment with which Sir James, in great masses of the 
rudest ore of history, selected what was valuable, and rejected what was worth- 
less, can be fully appreciated only by one who has toiled after him in the same 

X Life of Thomas Gent. A complete list of all printing houses in 1724 will be 
found in Nichols's Literary Anecdotes of the eighteenth century. There had 
then been a great increase within a few years in the number of presses ; and yet 
there were thirty-four counties in which there wa3 no printer, one of those 
counties being Lancashire. 


It was not only by means of the London Gazette that the 
government undertook to furnish political instruction to the 
people. That journal contained a scanty supply of news without 
comment. Another journal, published under the patronage of 
the court, consisted of comment without news. This paper, 
called the Observator, was edited by an old Tory pamphleteer 
named Roger Lestrange. Lestrange was by no means deficient 
in readiness and shrewdness ; and his diction, though coarse, 
and disfigured by a mean and flippant jargon which then passed 
for wit in the green room and the tavern, was not without keen- 
ness and vigour. But his nature, at once ferocious and ignoble, 
showed itself in every line that he penned. When the first Obser- 
vators appeared there was some excuse for his acrimony. The 
Whigs were then powerful ; and he had to contend against 
numerous adversaries, whose unscrupulous violence might seem 
to justify unsparing retaliation. But in 1G85 all the opposition 
had been crushed. A generous spirit would have disdained 
to insult a party which could not reply, and to aggravate the 
misery of prisoners, of exiles, of bereaved families : but from 
the malice of Lestrange the grave was no hiding place, and the 
house of mourning no sanctuary. In the last month of the 
reign of Charles the Second, William Jenkyn, an aged dissenting 
pastor of great note, who had been cruelly persecuted for no 
crime but that of worshipping God according to the fashion 
generally followed throughout Protestant Europe, died of hard- 
ships and privations at Newgate. The outbreak of popular 
sympathy could not be repressed. The corpse was followed to 
the grave by a train of a hundred and fifty coaches. Even 
courtiers looked sad. Even the unthinking King showed 
some signs of concern. Lestrange alone set up a howl of savage 
exultation, laughed at the weak compassion of the Trimmers, 
proclaimed that the blasphemous old impostor had met with a 
most righteous punishment, and vowed to wage war, not only to 
the death, but after cleath,with all the mock saints and martyrs.* 
Such was the spirit of the paper which was at this time the 

* Observator, Jan. 29, and 31, 16S5 ; Calamy's Life of Baxter ; Nonconformist 


oracle of the Tory party, and especially of the parochial 

Literature which could be carried by the post bag then 
formed the greater part of the intellectual nutriment ruminated 
*by the country divines and country justices. The difficulty and 
expense of conveying large packets from place to place was so 
great, that an extensive work was longer in making its way 
from Paternoster Row to Devonshire or Lancashire than it now 
is in reaching Kentucky. How scantily a rural parsonage was 
then furnished, even with books the most necessary to a theo- 
logian, has already been remarked. The houses of the gentry 
were not more plentifully supplied. Few knights of the shire 
had libraries so good as may now perpetually be found in a serv- 
ants' hall or in the back parlour of a small shopkeeper. An esquire 
passed among his neighbours for a great scholar, if Iludibras and 
Baker's Chronicle, Tarlton's Jests and the Seven Champions of 
Christendom, lay in his hall window among the fishing rods and 
fowling pieces. No circulating library, no book society, then 
existed even in the capital : but in the capital those students 
who could not afford to purchase largely had a resource. The 
shops of the great booksellers, near Saint Paul's Churchyard, 
were crowded every day and all day long with readers ; and a 
known customer was often permitted to carry a volume home. In 
the country there was no such accommodation ; and every man 
was under the necessity of buying whatever he wished to read. # 
As to the lady of the manor and her daughters, their literary 
stores generally consisted of a prayer book and receipt book. 
But in truth they lost little by living in rural seclusion. For, 
even in the highest ranks, and in those situations which afforded 
the greatest facilities for mental improvement, the English 
women of that generation were decidedly worse educated than 
they have been at any other time since the revival of learning. 
At an early period they had studied the masterpieces of ancient 

* Cotton seems, from his Angler, to have found room for his whole library in 
his hall window ; and Co: ton was a man of letters. Even when Franklin first 
visited London in 1724, circulating libiaiies were unknown there. The crowd at the 
booksellers' shops in Little Britain is mentioned by Roger North in his life of 
his brother John. 


genius. In the present day they seldom bestow much attention 
on the dead lauguages ; but they are familiar with the tongue of 
Pascal and Moliere, with the tongue of Dante and Tasso, with 
the tongue of Goethe and Schiller ; nor is there any purer or 
more graceful English than that which accomplished womeir 
now speak and write. But, during the latter part of the sev- 
enteenth century, the culture of the female mind seems to have 
been almost entirely neglected. If a damsel had the least smat- 
tering of literature she was regarded as a prodigy. Ladies highly 
born, highly bred, and naturally quick witted, were unabl.3 to 
write a line in their mother tongue without solecisms and faults of 
spelling such as a charity girl would now be ashamed to commit.* 
The explanation may easily be found. Extravagant licen- 
tiousness, the natural effect of extravagant austerity, was now 
the mode ; and licentiousness had produced its ordinary effect, 
the moral and intellectual degradation of women. To their 
personal beauty, it was the fashion to pay rude and impudent 
homage. But the admiration and desire which they inspired 
were seldom mingled with respect, with affection, or with any 
chivalrous sentiment. The qualities which fit them to be com- 
panions, advisers, confidential friends, rather repelled than 
attracted the libertines of Whitehall. In that court a maid of 
honour, who dressed in such a manner as to do full justice to a 
white bosom, who ogled significantly, who danced voluptuously, 
who excelled in pert repartee, who was not ashamed to romp 
with Lords of the Bedchamber and Captains of the Guards, to 
sing sly verses with sly expression, or to put on a page's dress 
for a frolic, was more likely to be followed and admired, more 
likely to be honoured with royal attentions, more likely to win 
a rich and noble husband than Jane Grey or Lucy Hutchinson 
would have been. In such circumstances the standard of female 
attainments was necessarily low ; and it was more dangerous to 

* One instance will suffice. Queen Mary, the daughter of James, had excel- 
lent natural a hililies, had been educated by a Bishop, was f oiid of history and poetry 
and was regarded by very eminent men as a superior woman. There is, in the li- 
brary at the Hague, a superb English Bible which was delivered to her when she 
was crowned in Westminster Abbey. In the titlepage are these words in her own 
hand, " This book was given the King and I, at our crownation. Marie R." 


be above that standard than to be beneath it. Extreme i<nio- 
ranee and frivolity were thought less unbecoming in a lady than 
the slightest tincture of pedantry. Of the too celebrated women 
whose face3 we still admire on the walls of Hampton Court, 
few indeed were in the habit of reading anything more valuable 
than acrostics, lampoons, and translations of the Clelia and the 
Grand Cyrus. 

The literary acquirements, even of the accomplished gentle- 
men of that generation, seem to have been somewhat less solid 
and profound than at an earlier or a later period. Greek learn- 
ing, at least, did not flourish among us in the days of Charles 
the Second, as it had flourished before the civil war, or as it 
again flourished long after the Revolution. There were un- 
doubtedly scholars to whom the whole Greek literature, from 
Homer to Photius, was familiar : but such scholars were to be 
found almost exclusively among the clergy resident at the 
Universities, and even at the Universities were few, and were 
not fully appreciated. At Cambridge it was not thought by 
any means necessary that a divine should be able to read the 
Gospels in the original.* Nor was the standard at Oxford 
higher. "When, in the reign of William the Third, Christ 
Church rose up as one man to defend the genuineness of 
the Epistles of Phalaris, that great college, then considered as 
the first seat of philology in the kingdom, could not muster 
such a stock of Attic learning as is now possessed by several 
youths at every great public school. It may easily be supposed 
that a dead language, neglected at the Universities, was not 
much studied by men of the world. In a former age the poetry 
and eloquence of Greece had been the delight of Raleigh and 
Falkland. In a later age the poetry and eloquence of Greece 
were the delight of Pitt and Fox, of Yv r indham and Grenville. 
But during the latter part of the seventeenth century there was 
in England scarcely one eminent statesman who could read 
with enjoyment a page of Sophocles or Plato. - 

Good Latin scholars were numerous. The lSnouao-e of 

o o 

* Roger North tells us that his hrother John, who was Greek professor at; 
Cambridge, complained biLterly of tho general negloct of the Greek tongua 
among the academical clergy. 


Rome, indeed, had not altogether lost its imperial prerogatives, 
and was still, in many parts of Europe, almost indispensable to 
a traveller or a negotiator. To speak it well was therefore a 
much more common accomplishment than in our time; and 
neither Oxford nor Cambridge wanted poets who, on a great 
occasion, could lay at the foot of the throne happy imitations of 
the verses in which Virgil and Ovid had celebrated the great- 
ness of Augustus. 

Yet even the Latin was giving way to a younger rival. 
France united at that time almost every species of ascendency. 
Her military glory was at the height. She had vanquished 
mighty coalitions. She had dictated treaties. She had sub- 
jugated great cities and provinces. She had forced the Castilian 
pride to yield her the precedence. She had summoned Italian 
princes to prostrate themselves at her footstool. Her authority 
was supreme in all matters of good breeding, from a duel to a 
minuet. She determined how a gentleman's coat must be cut, 
how long his peruke must be, whether his heels must be high 
or low, and whether the lace on his hat must be broad or nar- 
row. In literature she gave law to the world. The fame of 
her great writers fdled Europe. Xo other country could 
produce a tragic poet equal to Racine, a comic poet equal to 
Moliere, a trifler so agreeable as La Fontaine, a rhetorician so 
skilful as Bossuet. The literary glory of Italy and of Spain 
had set ; that of Germany had not yet dawned. The genius, 
therefore, of the eminent men who adorned Paris shone forth 
with a splendour which was set off to full advantage by con- 
trast. France, indeed, had at that time an empire over mankind, 
such as even the Roman Republic never attained. For, when 
Rome was politically dominant, she was in arts and letters the 
humble pupil of Greece. France had, over the surrounding 
countries, at once the ascendency which Rome had over Greece, 
and the ascendency which Greece had over Rome. French 
was fast becoming the universal language, the language of 
fashionable society, the language of diplomacy. At several 
courts princes and nobles spoke it more accurately and politely 
than their mother tongue. In our island there was less of this 


servility than on the Continent. Neither our good nor our bad 
qualities were those of imitators. Yet even here homage was 
paid, awkwardly indeed and sullenly, to the literary supremacy 
of our neighbours. The melodious Tuscan, so familiar to the 
o-allants and ladies of the court of Elizabeth, sank into contempt. 
A gentleman who quoted Horace or Terence was considered in 
good company as a pompous pedant. But to garnish his con- 
versation with scraps of French was the best proof which he 
could give of his parts and attainments.* New canons of 
criticism, new models of style came into fashion. The quaint 
ino-enuitv which had deformed the verses of Donne, and had 
been a blemish on those of Cowley, disappeared from our 
poetry. Our prose became less majestic, less artfully involved, 
less variously musical than that of an earlier age, but more 
lucid, more easy, and better fitted for controversy and narrative. 
In these changes it is impossible not to recognise the influence 
of French precept and of French example. Great masters of 
our language, in their most dignified compositions, affected to 
use French words, when English words, quite as expressive 
and sonorous, were at hand : f and from France was imported 
the tragedy in rhyme, an exotic which, in our soil, drooped, and 
speedily died. 

It would have been well if our writers had also copied the 
decorum which their great French contemporaries, with few 
exceptions, preserved ; for the profligacy of the English plays, 
satires, songs, and novels of that age is a deep blot on our 
national fame. The evil may easily be traced to its source. 
The wits and the Puritans had never been on friendly terms. 
There was no sympathy between the two classes. They looked 

* Butler, in a satire of great asperity, says, 

" For, though to smatter words of Greek 
And 7-itin be the rhe tori que 

Of nodr.nta counte'l, nnd vrinjrlorious, 
To smntter French is meritorious." 

t The most offensive instance which I remember is in a poem on the corona- 
tion of Charles the Second by Dryden, who certainly could not plead poverty as 
an excuse for borrowing words from any foreign tongue : — 

" Hither in summer evenings you repair 
To taste the fraicheur of the cooler air." 


on the whole system of human life from different points and in 
different lights. The earnest of each was the jest of the other. 
The pleasures of each were the torments of the other. To the 
stem precisian even the innocent sport of the fancy seemed a 
crime. To light and festive natures the solemnity of the zealous 
brethren furnished copious matter of ridicule. From the Re- 
formation to the civil war, almost every writer, gifted with a 
fine sense of the ludicrous, had taken some opportunity of 
assailing the straighthaired, snuffling, whining saints, who 
christened their children out of the Book of Nehemiah, who 
groaned in spirit at the sight of Jack in the Green, and who 
thought it impious to taste plum porridge on Christmas day. 
At length a time came when the laughers began to look grave 
in their turn. The rigid, ungainly zealots, after having fur- 
nished much good sport during two generations, rose up in 
arms, conquered, ruled, and, grimly smiling, trod down under 
their feet the whole crowd of mockers. The wounds inflicted 
by gay and petulant malice were retaliated with the gloomy 
and implacable malice peculiar to bigots who mistake their own 
rancour for virtue. The theatres were closed. The players 
were flogged. The press was put under the guardianship of 
austere licensers. The Muses were banished from their own 
favourite haunts, Cambridge and Oxford. Cowley, Crashaw, 
and Cleveland were ejected from their fellowships. The young 
candidate for academical honours was no longer required to 
write Ovidian epistles or Virgilian pastorals, but was strictly 
interrogated by a synod of lowering Supralapsariaus as to the 
day and hour when he experienced the new birth. Such a 
system was of course fruitful of hypocrites. Under sober 
clothing and under visages composed to the expression of 
austerity lay hid during several years the intense desire of 
license and of revenge. At length that desire was gratified. 
The Restoration emancipated thousands of minds from a yoke 
which had become insupportable. The old fight recommenced, 
but with an animositv altogether new. It was now not a 
sportive combat, but a war to the death. The Roundhead had 
no better quarter to expect from those w r hom he had persecuted 


than a cruel slavedriver can expect from insurgent slaves still 
bearing the marks of his collars and his scourges. 

The war between wit and Puritanism soon became a war 
between wit and morality. The hostility excited by a grotesque 
caricature of virtue did not spare virtue herself. Whatever 
the canting Roundhead had regarded with reverence was in- 
sulted. Whatever he had proscribed was favoured. Because 
he had been scrupulous about trifles, all scruples were treated 
with derision. Because he had covered his failings with the 
mask of devotion, men were encouraged to obtrude with Cynic 
impudence all their most scandalous vices on 'the public eye. 
Because he had punished illicit love with barbarous severity, 
virgin purity and conjugal fidelity were made a jest. To that 
sanctimonious jargon which was his Shibboleth, was opposed 
another jargon not less absurd and much more odious. As he 
never opened his mouth except in scriptural phrase, the new 
breed of wits and fine gentlemen never opened their mouths 
without uttering ribaldry of which a porter would now be 
ashamed, and without calling on their Maker to curse them, 
sink them, confound them, blast them, and damn them. 

It is not strange, therefore, that our polite literature/when 
it revived with the revival of the old civil and ecclesiastical 
polity, should have been profoundly immoral. A few eminent 
men, who belonged to an earlier and better age, were exempt 
from the general contagion. The verse of Waller still breathed 
the sentiments which had animated a more chivalrous genera- 
tion. Cowley, distinguished as a loyalist and as a man of 
letters, raised his voice courageously against the immorality 
which disgraced both letters and loyalty. A mightier poet, 
tried at once by pain, danger, poverty, obloquy, and blindness, 
meditated, undisturbed by the obscene tumult which raged all 
around him, a song so sublime and so holy that it would not 
have misbecome the lips of those ethereal Virtues whom he 
- iw, with that inner eye which no calamity could darken, fling- 
ing down on the jasper pavement their crowns of amaranth and 
gold. The vigourous and fertile genius of Butler, if it did not 
altogether escape the prevailing infection, took the disease in a 


mild form. But these were men whose minds had been trained 
in a world which had passed away. They gave place in no 
long time to a younger generation of wits ; and of that genera- 
tion, from Dryden down to Durfey, the common characteristic 
was hard-hearted, shameless, swaggering licentiousness, at once 
inelegant and inhuman. The influence of these writers was 
doubtless noxious, yet less noxious than it would have been 
had they been less depraved. The poison which they adminis- 
tered was so strong that it was, in no long time, rejected with 
nausea. None of them understood the dangerous art of asso- 
ciating images of unlawful pleasure with all that is endearing 
and ennobling. None of them was aware that a certain decorum 
is essential even to voluptuousness, that drapery may be more 
alluring than exposure, and that the imagination may be far 
more powerfully moved by delicate hints which impel it to 
exert itself, than by gross descriptions which it takes in pas- 

The spirit of the Antipuritan reaction pervades almost the 
whole polite literature of the reign of Charles the Second. But 
the very quintessence of that spirit will be found in the comic 
drama. The playhouses, shut by the meddling fanatic in the day 
of his power, were again crowded. To their old attractions new 
and more powerful attractions had been added. Scenery, dresses, 
and decorations, such as would now be thought mean or absurd, 
but such as would have been esteemed incredibly magnificent by 
those who, early in the seventeenth century, sate on the filthy 
benches of the Hope, or under the thatched roof of the Rose, 
dazzled the eyes of the multitude. The fascination of sex was 
called in to aid the fascination of art : and the young spectator 
saw, with emotions unknown to the contemporaries of Shakspeare 
and Johnson, tender and sprightly heroines personated by lovely 
women. From the day on which the theatres were reopened 
they became seminaries of vice ; and the evil propagated itself. 
The profligacy of the representations soon drove away sober 
people. The frivolous and dissolute who remained required 
every year stronger and stronger stimulants. Thus the artists 
corrupted the spectators, and the spectators the artists, till the 


turpitude of the drama became such as must astonish all who 
are not aware that extreme relaxation is the natural effect of 
extreme restraint, and that an age of hypocrisy is, in the regular 
course of things, followed by an age of impudence. 

Nothing is more characteristic of the times than the care 
with which the poets contrived to put all their loosest verses 
into the mouths of women. The compositions in which the 
greatest license was taken were the epilogues. They were 
almost always recited by favourite actresses ; and nothing 
charmed the depraved audience so much as to hear lines grossly 
indecent repeated by a beautiful girl, who was supposed to have 
not yet lost her innocence.* 

Our theatre was indebted in that age for many plots and 
characters to Spain, to F ranee, and to the old English masters : 
but whatever our dramatists touched they tainted. In their 
imitations the houses of Calderon's stately and highspirited 
Castilian gentlemen became sties of vice, Shakspeare's Viola a 
procuress, Moliere's Misanthrope a ravisher, Moliere's Agnes 
an adulteress. Nothing could be so pure or so heroic but that 
it became foul and ignoble by transfusion through those foul and 
ignoble minds. 

Such was the state of the drama ; and the drama was the 
department of polite literature in which a poet had the best 
chance of obtaining a subsistence by his pen. The sale of books 
was so small that a man of the greatest name could hardly ex- 
pect more than a pittance for the copyright of the best perform- 
ance. There cannot be a stronger instance than the fate of 
Dryden's last production, the Fables. That volume was pub- 
lished when he was universally admitted to be the chief of liv- 
ing English poets. It contains about twelve thousand lines. 
The versification is admirable, the narratives and descriptions 
full of life. To this day Palamon and Arcite, Cymon and 
Iphigenia, Theodore and Honoria, are the delight both of critics 
and of schoolboys. The collection includes Alexander's Feast, 
the noblest ode in our language. For the copyright Dryden 

* Jeremy Collier has censured this odious practice with his usual force and 


received two hundred and fifty pounds, less than in our days has 
sometimes been paid for two articles in a review.* Nor does 
the bargain seem to have been a hard one. For the book went 
off slowly ; and the second edition was not required till the 
author had been ten years in his grave. By writing for the 
theatre it was possible to earn a much larger sum with much 
less trouble. Southern made seven hundred pounds by one 
play.f Otway was raised from beggary to temporary affluence 
by the success of his Don Carlos. $ Shadwell cleared a hundred 
and thirty pounds by a single representation of the Squire of 
Alsatia.§ The consequence was that every man who had to 
live by his wit wrote plays, whether he had any internal voca- 
tion to write plays or not. It was thus with Dryden. As a 
satirist he has rivalled Juvenal. As a didactic poet he perhaps 
might, with care and meditation, have rivalled Lucretius. Of 
lyric poets he is, if not the most sublime, the most brilliant and 
spiritstirring. But nature, profuse to him of many rare gifts, 
had withheld from him the dramatic faculty. Nevertheless all 
the energies of his best years were wasted on dramatic composi- 
tion. He had too much judgment not to be aware that in the 
power of exhibiting character by means of dialogue he was 
deficient. That deficiency he did his best to conceal, sometimes 
by surprising and amusing incidents, sometimes by stately decla- 
mation, sometimes by harmonious numbers, sometimes by 
ribaldry but too well suited to the taste of a profane and licen- 
tious pit. Yet he never obtained any theatrical success equal to 
that which rewarded the exertions of some men far inferior to 
him in general powers. He thought himself fortunate if he 
cleared a hundred guineas by a play ; a scanty remuneration, 
yet apparently larger than he could have earned in any other 
way by the same quantity of labour. || 

The recompense which the wits of that age could obtain 
from the public was so small, that they were under the necessity 

* The contrast will be found in Sir Walter Scott's edition of Dryden. 
t See the Life of South-rn. by Shiels. 
t See Rochesters Trial of the Poets. 
§ Some Account of the English Stage. 
II Life of Southern, by Shiels. 


of ekino- out their incomes by levying contributions on the great. 
Every rich and goodnatured lord was pestered by authors with a 
mendicancy so importunate, and a flattery so abject, as may in 
our time seem incredible. The patron to whom a work was 
inscribed was expected to reward the writer with a purse of 
gold. The fee paid for the dedication of a book was often much 
larger than the sum which any publisher would give for the 
copyright. Books were therefore frequently printed merely 
that they might be dedicated. This traffic in praise produced 
the effect which might have been expected. Adulation pushed 
to the verge, sometimes of nonsense, and sometimes of impiety, 
was not thought to disgrace a poet. Independence, veracity, 
selfrespect, were things not required by the world from him. 
In truth, he was in morals something between a pandar and a 

To the other vices which degraded the literary character 
was added, towards the close of the reign of Charles the Second, 
the most savage intemperance of party spirit. The wits, as a 
class, had been impelled by their old hatred of Puritanism to 
take the side of the court, and had been found useful allies. 
Dryden, in particular, had done good service to the government. 
His Absalom and Achitophel, the greatest satire of modern times 
had amazed the town, had made its way with unprecedented 
rapidity even into rural districts, and had, wherever it appeared 
bitterly annoyed the Exclusionists, and raised the courage of 
the Tories. But we must not, in the admiration which we 
naturally feel for noble diction and versification, forget the 
great distinctions of good and evil. The spirit by which Dry- 
den and several of his compeers were at this time animated 
against the Whijjs deserves to be called fiendish. The servile 
Judges and Sheriffs of those evil days could not shed blood as 
fast as the poets cried out for it. Calls for more victims, hide- 
ous jests on hanging, bitter taunts on those who, having stood 
bv the Kin<£ in the hour of danger, now advised him to deal 
mercifully and generously by his vanquished enemies, were 
publicly recited on the stage, and, that nothing might be want- 
ing to the guilt and the shame, were recited by women, who, 


having long been taught to discard all modesty, were now 
taught to discard all compassion.* 

It is a remarkable fact that, while the lighter literature of 
England was thus becoming a nuisance and a national disgrace, 
the English genius was effecting in science a revolution which 
will, to the end of time, be reckoned amono- the highest achieve- 
ments of the human intellect. Bacon had sown the good seed in a 
sluggish soil and an ungenial season. He had not expected an 
early crop, and in his last testament had solemnly bequeathed 
his fame to the next age. During a whole generation his phi- 
losophy had, amidst tumults, wars, and proscriptions, been slowly 
ripening in a few well constituted minds. While factions were 
struggling for dominion over each other, a small body of sages 
had turned away with benevolent disdain from the conflict, and 
had devoted themselves to the nobler work of extending the 
dominion of man over matter. As soon as tranquillity was 
restored, these teachers easily found attentive audience. For 
the discipline through which the nation had passed had brought 
the public mind to a temper well fitted for the reception of the 
Verulamian doctrine. The civil troubles had stimulated the 
faculties of the educated classes, and had called forth a restless 
activity and an insatiable curiosity, such as had not before been 

known anions us. Yet the effect of those troubles was that 

schemes of political and religious reform were generally regarded 
with suspicion and contempt. During twenty years the chief 
employment of busy and ingenious men had been to frame con- 
stitutions with first magistrates, without first magistrates, with 
hereditary senates, with senates appointed by lot, with annual 
senates, with perpetual senates. In these plans nothing was 
omitted. All the detail, all the nomenclature, all the ceremonial of 
the imaginary government was fully set forth, Polemarchs and 
Phylarchs, Tribes and Galaxies, the Lord Archon and the Lord 
Strategus. Which ballot boxes were to be green and which red, 
which balls were to be of gold and which of silver, which magis- 

* If any reader thinks my expressions too severe, I would advise him to read 
Dryden's Epilogue to the Duke of Guise, and to observe that it was spoken by a 


trates were to wear hats and which black velvet caps with peaks, 
how the mace was to be carried and when the heralds were to 
uncover, these, and a hundred more such trifles, were gravely consi- 
dered and arranged by men of no common capacity and learning.* 
But the time for these visions had gone by ; and, if any stead- 
fast republican still continued to amuse himself with them, fear 
of public derision and of a criminal information generally induced 
him to keep his fancies to himself. It was now unpopular and 
unsafe to mutter a word against the fundamental laws of the 
monarchy : but daring and ingenious men might indemnify them- 
selves by treating with disdain what had lately been considered 
as the fundamental laws of nature. The torrent which had 
been dammed up in one channel rushed violently into another. 
The revolutionary spirit, ceasing to operate in politics, began to 
exert itself with unprecedented vigour and hardihood in every 
department of physics. The year 1660, the era of the restora- 
tion of the old constitution, is also the era from which dates the 
ascendency of the new philosophy. In that year the Royal 
Society, destined to be a chief agent in a long series of glorious 
and salutary reforms, began to exist. f In a few months experi- 
mental science became all the mode. The transfusion of blood, 
the ponderation of air, the fixation of mercury, succeeded to 
that place in the public mind which had been lately occupied 
by the controversies of the Rota. Dreams of perfect forms of 
government made way for dreams of wings with which men 
were to fly from the Tower to the Abbey, and of doublekeeled 
ships which were never to founder in the fiercest storm. All 
classes were hurried along by the prevailing sentiment. Cava- 
lier and Roundhead, Churchman and Puritan, were for once 
allied. Divines, jurists, statesmen, nobles, princes, swelled the 
triumph of the Baconian philosophy. Poets sang with emulous 
fervour the approach of the golden age. Cowley, in lines 
weighty with thought and resplendent with wit, urged the chosen 
seed to take possession of the promised land flowing with milk 
and honey, that land which their great deliverer and lawgiver 

* See particularly Harrington's Oceana, 
t See Sprat's History of the Royal Society. 



had seen, as from the summit of Pisgah, but had not been per- 
mitted to enter.* Dryden, with more zeal than knowledge, joined 
voice to the general acclamation to enter, and foretold things 
which neither he nor anybody else understood. The Royal 
Society, he predicted, would soon lead us to the extreme verge of 
the globe, and there delight us with a better view of the moon, f 
Two able and aspiring prelates, Ward, Bishop of Salisbury, 
and Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, were conspicuous among the 
leaders of the movement. Its history was eloquently written 
by a younger divine, who was rising to high distinction in his 
profession, Thomas Sprat, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. 
Both Chief Justice Hale and Lord Keeper Guildford stole some 
hours from the business of their courts to write on hydrostatics. 
Indeed it was under the immediate direction of Guildford that 
the first barometers ever exposed to sale in London were con- 
structed. $ Chemistry divided, for a time, with wine and love, 
with the stao^e and the o-amino; table, with the intrigues of a cour- 
tier and the intrigues of a dema<ro<Tue, the attention of the fickle 
Buckingham. Rupert has the credit of having invented mezzotin- 
to ; from him is named that curious bubble of glass which has long 
amused children and puzzled philosophers. Charles himself had 
a laboratory at Whitehall, and was far more active and attentive 
there than at the council board. It was almost necessary to the 
character of a fine gentleman to have something to say about air 
pumps and telescopes ; and even fine ladies, now and then, 
thought it becoming to affect a taste for science, went in coaches 
and six to visit the Gresham curiosities, and broke forth into 
cries of delight at finding that a magnet really attracted a needle, 
and that a microscope really made a fly look as large as a spar. 

In this, as in every great stir of the human mind, there wai 

* Cowley's Ode to the Royal Society. 

t " Then we upon the globe's last verge shall go, 

And view the ocean leaning on the sky ; 

From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know, 

And on the lunar world securely pry.' 

Annus Mirubilis, 164 
J North's Life of Guildford. 
§ Pepys's Diary, May 30, 1667. 


doubtless something which might well move a smile. It is the 
universal law that whatever pursuit, whatever doctrine, becomes 
fashionable, shall lose a portion of that dignity which it had pos- 
sessed while it was confined to a small but earnest minority, and 
was loved for its own sake alone. It is true that the follies of 
some persons who, without any real aptitude for science, pro- 
fessed a passion for it, furnished matter of contemptuous mirth to 
a few malignant satirists who belonged to the preceding gener- 
ation, and were not disposed to unlearn the lore of their youth.* 
But it is not less true that the great work of interpreting nature 
was performed by the English of that age as it had never before 
been performed in any age by any nation. The spirit of Fran- 
cis Bacon was abroad, a spirit admirably compounded of audacity 
and sobriety. There was a strong persuasion that the whole 
world was full of secrets of high moment to the happiness of 
man, and that man had, by his Maker, been entrusted with the 
key which, rightly used, would give access to them. There was 
at the same time a conviction that in ph} 7 sics it was impossible 
to arrive at the knowledge of general laws except by the care- 
ful observation of particular facts. Deeply impressed with these 
great truths, the professors of the new philosophy applied them- 
selves to their task, and, before a quarter of a century had 
expired, they had given ample earnest of what has since been 
achieved. Already a reform of agriculture had been com- 
menced. New vegetables were cultivated. New implements of 
husbandry were employed. New manures were applied to the 
soil.f Evelyn had, under the formal sanction of the Royal 
Society, given instruction to his countrymen in planting. 
Temple, in his intervals of leisure, had tried many experiments 
in horticulture, and had proved that many delicate fruits, the 
natives of more favoured climates, might, with the help of art, 
be grown on English ground. Medicine, which in France was 

* Butler was, I think, the only man of real genius who, between the Restora- 
tion and the Revolution showed a bitter enmity to the new philosophy, as it was 
then called. See the Satire on the Royal Society, and the Elephant in the Moon. 

t The easprne^s with which the agriculturists of that age tried experiments 
and introduced improvements is well described by Aubrey. See the Natural 
History of Wiltshire, 1685. 


still in abject bondage, and afforded an inexhaustible subject of 
just ridicule to Moliere, had in England become an experi- 
mental and progressive science, and every day made some new 
advance in defiance of Hippocrates and Galen. The attention 
of speculative men had been, for the first time, directed to the 
important subject of sanitary police. The great plague of 1665 
induced them to consider with care the defective architecture, 
draining, and ventilation of the capital. The great fire of 1666 
afforded an opportunity for effecting extensive improvements. 
The whole matter was diligenth r examined by the Royal Society ; 
and to the suggestions of that body must be partly attributed 
the changes which, though far short of what the public welfare 
required, yet made a wide difference between the new and the 
old London, and probably put a final close to the ravages of 
pestilence in our country.* At the same time one of the found- 
ers of the Society, Sir William Petty, created the science of 
political arithmetic, the humble but indispensable handmaid of 
political philosophy. No kingdom of nature was left unexplored. 
To that period belong the chemical discoveries of Boyle, and 
the earliest botanical researches of Sloane. It was then that 
Ray made a new classification of birds and fishes, and that the 
attention of Woodward was first drawn towards fossils and shells. 
One after another phantoms which had haunted the world through 
ages of darkness fled before the light. Astrology and alchymy 
became jests. Soon there was scarcely a county in which some 
of the Quorum did not smile contemptuously when an old 
woman was brought before them for riding on broomsticks or 
giving cattle the murrain. But it was in those noblest and most 
arduous departments of knowledge in which induction and 
mathematical demonstration cooperate for the discovery of truth, 
that the English genius won in that age the most memorable 
triumphs. John Wallis placed the whole system of statics on a 
new foundation. Edmund Halley investigated the properties of 
the atmosphere, the ebb and flow of the sea, the laws of mag- 
netism, and the course of the comets ; nor did he shrink from 
toil, peril and exile in the cause of science. While he, on the 

* Sprat's History of the Royal Society. 


rock of Saint Helena, mapped the constellations of the southern 
hemisphere, our national observatory was rising at Greenwich : 
and John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, was commenc- 
ing that long series of observations which is never mentioned 
without respect and gratitude in any part of the globe. But the 
glory of these men, eminent as they were, is cast into the shade 
by the transcendent lustre of one immortal name. In Isaac 
Newton two kinds of intellectual power, which have little in 
common, and which are not often found together in a very high 
degree of vigour, but which nevertheless are equally necessary 
in the most sublime departments of physics, were united as they 
have never been united before or since. There may have been 
minds as happily constituted as his for the cultivation of pure 
mathematical science : there may have been minds as happily 
constituted for the cultivation of science purely experimental ; 
but in no other mind have the demonstrative faculty and the 
inductive faculty coexisted in such supreme excellence and per- 
fect harmony. Perhaps in the days of Scotists and Thomists even 
his intellect might have run to waste, as many intellects ran 
to waste which were inferior only to his. Happily the spirit of 
the age on which his lot was cast, gave the right direction 
to his mind ; and his mind reacted with tenfold force on the 
spirit of the age. In the year 1G85 his fame, though 
splendid, was only dawning ; but his genius was in the meridian. 
His great work, that work which effected a revolution in the 
most important provinces of natural philosophy, had been com- 
pleted, but was not yet published, and was just about to be sub- 
mitted to the consideration of the Royal Society. 

It is not very easy to explain why the nation which was so 
far before its neighbours in science should in art have been far 
behind them. Yet such was the fact. It is true that in archi- 
tecture, an art which is half a science, an art in which none but 
a geometrician can excel, an art which has no standard of grace 
but what is directly or indirectly dependent on utility, an art of 
which the creations derive a part, at least, of their majesty from 
mere bulk, our country could boast of one truly great man, 
Christopher Wren ; and the fire which laid London ip **uins 


had given him an opportunity, unprecedented in modern history, 
of displaying his powers. The austere beauty of the Athenian 
portico, the gloomy sublimity of the Gothic arcade, he was like 
almost all his contemporaries, incapable of emulating, and per- 
haps incapable of appreciating ; but no man born on our side of 
the Alps, has imitated with so much success the magnificence of 
the palacelike churches of Italy. Even the superb Lewis has 
left to posterity no work which can bear a comparison with 
Saint Paul's. But at the close of the reign of Charles the 
Second there was not a single English painter or statuary whose 
name is now remembered. This sterility is somewhat myste- 
rious ; for painters and statuaries were by no means a despised 
or an ill paid class. Their social position was at least as high as 
at present. Their gains, when compared with the wealth of the 
nation and with the remuneration of other descriptions of intel- 
lectual labour, were even larger than at present. Indeed the 
munificent patronage which was extended to artists drew them 
to our shores in multitudes. Lely, who has preserved to us the 
rich curls, the full lips, and the languishing eyes of the frail 
beauties celebrated by Hamilton, was a Westphalian. He had 
died in 1 680, having long lived splendidly, having received the 
honour of knighthood, and having accumulated a good estate out 
of the fruits of his skill. His noble collection of drawings and 
pictures was, after his decease, exhibited by the royal permis- 
sion in the Banqueting House at Whitehall, and was sold by 
auction for the almost incredible sum of twenty-six thousand 
pounds, a sum which bore a greater proportion to the fortunes 
of the rich men of that day than a hundred thousand pounds 
would bear to the fortunes of the rich men of our time.* Lely 
was succeeded by his countryman Godfrey Kneller, who was 
made first a knight and then a baronet, and who, after keeping 
up a sumptuous establishment, and after losing much money by 
unlucky speculations, was still able to bequeath a large fortune 
to his family. The two Yandeveldes, natives of Holland, had 
been tempted by English liberality to settle here, and had pro- 

* Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting ; London Gazette, May 31, 1683 ; North's 
Life of Guildford. 


duced for the King and his nobles some of the finest sea pieces 
in the world. Another Dutchman, Simon Varelst, painted 
glorious sunflowers and tulips for prices such as had never be- 
fore been known. Verrio, a Neapolitan, covered ceilings and 
staircases with Gorgons and Muses, Nymphs and Satyrs, Vir- 
tues and Vices, Gods quaffing nectar, and laurelled princes 
riding in triumph. The income which he derived from his 
performances enabled him to keep one of the most expensive 
tables in England. For his pieces at Windsor alone he received 
seven thousand pounds, a sum then sufficient to make a gentle- 
man of moderate wishes perfectly easy for life, a sum greatly 
exceeding all that Dryden, during a literary life of forty years, 
obtained from the booksellers.* Verrio's assistant and suc- 
cessor, Lewis Laguerre, came from France. The two most 
celebrated sculptors of thdt day were also foreigners. Cibber, 
whose pathetic emblems of Fury and Melancholy still adorn 
Bedlam, was a Dane. Gibbons, to whose graceful fancy and 
delicate touch many of our palaces, colleges, and churches owe 
their finest decorations, was a Dutchman. Even the designs 
for the coin were made by French artists. Indeed, it was not 
till the reign of George the Second that our country could glory 
in a great painter; and George the Third was on the throne 
before she had reason to be proud of any of her sculptors. 

It is time that this description of the England which Charles 
the Second governed should draw to a close. Yet one subject 
of the highest moment still remains untouched. Nothing has 
yet been said of the great body of the people, of those who held 
the ploughs, who tended the oxen, who toiled at the looms of 
Norwich, and squared the Portland stone for Saint Paul's. 
Nor can very much be said. The most numerous class is pre- 
cisely the class respecting which we have the most meagre 
information. In those times philanthropists did not yet regard 
it as a sacred duty, nor had demagogues yet found it a lucrative 
trade, to talk and write about the distress of the labourer. His- 
tory was too much occupied with courts and camps to spare a 

* The great prices paid to Varelst and Verrio are mentioned in Walpole'a 
Anecdotes of Painting. 


line for the hut of the peasant or the garret of the mechanic. 
The press now often sends forth in a day a greater quantity of 
discussion and declamation about the condition of the working 
man than was published during the twenty-eight years which 
elapsed between the Restoration and the Revolution. But it 
would be a great error to infer from the increase of complaint 
that there has been any increase of misery. 

The great criterion of the state of the common people is the 
amount oi ! th^ir wages ; and as four-fifths of the common people 
were, in the seventeenth century, employed in agriculture, it is 
especially important to ascertain what were then the wages of 
agricultural industry. On this subject we have the means of 
arriving at conclusions sufficiently exact for our purpose. 

Sir William Petty, whose mere assertion carries great weight, 
informs us that a labourer was by no means in the lowest state 
who received for a day's work fourpence with food, or eight- 
pence without food. Four shillings a week therefore were, 
according to Petty's calculation, fair agricultural wages.* 

That this calculation was not remote from the truth we have 
abundant proof. About the beginning of the year 1685 the 
justices of Warwickshire, in the exercise of a power entrusted 
to them by an Act of Elizabeth, fixed, at their quarter sessions, 
a scale of wages for the county, and notified that every employer 
who gave more than the authorised sum, and every working 
man who received more, would be liable to punishment. The 
wajjes of the common agricultural labourer, from March to 
September, were fixed at the precise amount mentioned by 
Petty, namely four shillings a week without food. From Sep- 
tember to March the wages were to be only three and sixpence 
a we^k.f 

But in that age, as in ours, the earnings of the peasant were 
very different in different parts of the kingdom. The wages of 
Warwickshire were probably about the average, and those of 
the counties near the Scottish border below it : but there were 
more favoured districts* In the same year, 1685, a gentleman 
of Devonshire, named Richard Dunning, published a small tract, 
* Petty's Political Arithmetic. t Stat. 5 Eliz. c. i ; Archseologia, vol. xi. 


in which he described the condition of the poor of that county. 
That he understood his subject well it is impossible to doubt ; 
for a few months later his work was reprinted, and was, by the 
magistrates assembled in quarter sessions at Exeter, strongly 
recommended to the attention of ail parochial officers. Accord- 
ing to him, the wages' of the Devonshire peasant were, without 
food, about five shillings a week.* 

Still better was the condition of the labourer in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bury Saint Edmund's. The magistrates of Suffolk 
met there in the spring of 1682 to fix a rate of wages, and 
resolved that, where the labourer was not boarded, he should 
have five shillings a week in winter, and six in summer. f 

In 1661 the justices at Chelmsford had fixed the wages of 
the Essex labourer, who was not boarded, at six shillings in 
winter and seven in summer. This seems to have been the 
highest remuneration given in the kingdom for agricultural 
labour between the Restoration and the Revolution ; and it 
is to be observed that, in the year in which this order was made, 
the necessaries of life were immoderately dear. Wheat was at 
seventy shillings the quarter, which would even now be consid- 
ered as almost a famine price. t 

These facts are in perfect accordance with another fact 
which seems to deserve consideration. It is evident that, in 
a country where no man can be compelled to become a soldier, 
the ranks of an army cannot be filled if the government offers 
much less than the wages of common rustic labour. At present 
the pay and beer money of a private in a regiment of the line 
amount to seven shillings and sevenpence a week. This stipend, 
coupled with the hope of a pension, does not attract the English 
youth in sufficient numbers ; and it is found necessary to supply 
the deficiency by enlisting largely from among the poorer 
population of Munster and Connaught. The pay of the private 
foot soldier in 1685 wa3 only four shillings and eightpence 
a week ; yet it is certain that the government in that year found 

* riain and easy Mothod showing how the office of Overseer of the Toor may 
be managed, by Richard Dunning ; 1st edition, 1GS5 ; 2d edition, 1GS6. 
t Cnllnrrvs History of Hawsted. 
% Haggles on the Poor. 


no difficult}' in obtaining many thousands of English recruits at 
very short notice. The pay of the private foot soldier in the 
army of the Commonwealth had been seven shillings a week. 
that is to say, as much as a corporal received under Charles the 
Second ; * and seven shillings a week had been found sufficient 
to fill the ranks with men decidedly superior to the generality 
of the people. On the whole, therefore, it seems reasonable to 
conclude that, in the reign of Charles the Second, the ordinary 
wages of the peasant did not exceed four shillings a week ; but 
that, in some parts of the kingdom, five shillings, six shillings, 
and, during the summer months, even seven shillings were paid. 
At present a district where a labouring man earns only seven 
shillings a week is thought to be in a state shocking to humanity. 
The average is very much higher ; and in prosperous counties, 
the weekly wages of husbandmen amount to twelve, fourteen, 
and even sixteen shillings. The remuneration of workmen em- 
ployed in manufactures has always been higher than that of the 
tillers of the soil. In the year 1680, a member of the House of 
Commons remarked that the high wages paid in this country 
made it impossible for our textures to maintain a competition 
with the produce of the Indian looms. An English mechanic, he 
said, instead of slaving like a native of Bengal for a piece of 
copper, exacted a shilling a day. J Other evidence is extant, which 
proves that a shilling a day was the pay to which the English 
manufacturer then thought himself entitled, but that he was 
often forced to work for less. The common people of that age 
were not in the habit of meeting for public discussion, of 
haranguing, or of petitioning Parliament. 2so newspaper 
pleaded their cause. It was in rude rhyme that their love 
and hatred, their exultation and their distress, found utter- 
ance. A great part of their history is to be learned only 
from their ballads. One of the most remarkable of the popu- 
lar lays chaunted about the streets of Norwich and Leeds in 
the time of Charles the Second may still be read on the orig- 

* See, in Thurloe's State Papers, the memorandum of the Dutch- Deputies, 
dated August 2-12, 1653. 

t The orator was Mr. John Basset, member for Barnstaple. See Smith's 
Memoirs of Wool, chapter lxviii. 


inal broadside. It is the vehement and bitter cry of labour 
againat capital. It describes the good old times when every 
artisan employed in the woollen manufacture lived as well as 
a farmer. But those times were past. Sixpence a day was 
now all that could be earned by hard labour at the loom. If 
the poor complained that they could not live on such a pit- 
tance, they were told that they were free to take it or leave it. 
For so miserable a recompense were the producers of wealth 
compelled to toil, rising early and lying down late, while the 
master clothier, eating, sleeping, and idling, became rich by their 
exertions. A shilling a day, the poet declares, is what the 
weaver would have if justice were done.* We may therefore 
conclude that, in the generation which preceded the Revolution, 
a workman employed in the great staple manufacture of England 
thought himself fairly paid if he gained six shillings a week. 

It may here be noticed that the practice of setting children 
prematurely to work, a practice which the state, the legitimate 
protector of those who cannot protect themselves, has, in our 
time, wisely and humanely interdicted, prevailed in the seven- 
teenth century to an extent which, when compared with the ex- 
tent of the manufacturing system, seems almost incredible. At 
Norwich, the chief seat of the clothing trade, a little creature 
of six years old was thought fit for labour. Several writers of 
that time, and among them some who were considered as emi- 
nently benevolent, mention, with exultation, the fact that, in 
that single city, boys and girls of very tender age created wealth 

* This ballad is in the British Museum. The precise year is not given ; but 
the Imprimatur of Roger Lestrange fixes the date sufficiently for my purpose. I 
will quote some of the lines. The master clothier is introduced speaking as 
follows :— 

" In former ages wc used to give, 
Sv that our workfolk* like farmers did live ; 

But the times are changed, we will make them know. 

• "We will make them to work hard for sixpence a day, 
Though a shilling they deserve if they had their just pay ; 
If at all they murmur and say 'tis too small, 
We hid them choose whether they'll work at all. 
And thus we '"o g'in all our wealth and estate, 
By many poor men that work early and late. 
Then hey for the clothing trade ! It goes on brave ; 
We scorn for to toyl and moyl, nor yet to slave. 
Our workmen do work har'l. but we live at ease, 
We go when we will, and we come when wc please." 


exceeding what was necessary for their own subsistence by twelve 
thousand pounds a year.* The more carefully we examine the 
history of the past, the more reason shall we find to dissent from 
those who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new social 
evils. The truth is that the evils are, with scarcely an exception, 
old. That which is new is the intelligence which discerns and 
the humanity which remedies them. 

When we pass from the weavers of cloth to a different class 
of artisans, our enquiries will still lead us to nearly the same 
conclusions. During several generations, the Commissioners of 
Greenwich Hospital have kept a register of the wages paid to dif- 
ferent classes of workmen who have been employed in the repairs 
of the building. From this valuable record it appears that, in. the 
course of a hundred and twenty years, the daily earnings of the 
bricklayer have risen from half a crown to four and tenpence, 
those of the mason from half a crown to five and threepence, 
those of the carpenter from half a crown to five and fivepence, and 
those of the plumber from three shillings to five and sixpence. 

It seems clear, therefore, that the wages of labour, estima- 
ted in money, were, in 1685, not more than half of what they 
now are ; and there were few articles important to the working 
man of which the price was not, in 1685, more than half of what 
it now is. Beer was undoubtedly much cheaper in that age than 
at present. Meat was also cheaper, but was still so dear that 
hundreds of thousands of families scarcely knew the taste of it. t 
In the cost of wheat there has been very little change. The aver- 
age price of the quarter, during the last twelve years of Charles 
the Second, was fifty shillings. Bread, therefore, such as is now 
given to the inmates of a workhouse, was then seldom seen, even 
on the trencher of a yeoman or of a shopkeeper. The great ma- 
jority of the nation lived almost entirely on r} r e, barley, and oats. 

The produce of tropical countries, the produce of the mines, 

* Chaniberlayne's State of England; Petty's Political Arithmetic, chapter 
viii. ; Dunning's Plain and Easy Method ; Firmin's Proposition for the Employing 
of the Poor. It ought to be observed that Firmin was an eminent philanthropist. 

t King in his Natural and Political Conclusions roughly estimated the common 
people of England at 880,000 families. Of these families 440,000. according to him, 
ate animal food twice a week. The remaining 440,000, ate it not at all, or at most 
not oftener than once a week. 


the produce of machinery, was positively dearer than at present. 
Among the commodities for which the labourer would have had 
to pay higher in 1685 than his posterity now pay were sugar, 
salt, coals, candles, soap, shoes, stockings, and generally all 
articles of clothing and all articles of bedding. It may be 
added, that the old coats and blankets would have been, not 
only more costly, but less serviceable than the modern fabrics. 

It must be remembered that those labourers who were able 
to maintain themselves and their families by means of wages 
were not the most necessitous members of the community. 
Beneath them lay a large class which could not subsist without 
some aid from the parish. There can hardly be a more impor- 
tant test of the condition of the common people than the ratio 
which this class bears to the whole society. At present, the 
men, women, and children who receive relief appear from the 
official returns to be, in bad years, one tenth of the inhabitants 
of England, and, in good years, one thirteenth. Gregory King 
estimated them in his time at about a fourth ; and this estimate, 
which all our respect for his authority will scarcely prevent us 
from calling extravagant, was pronounced by Davenant emi- 
nently judicious. 

We are not quite without the means of forming an estimate 
for ourselves. The poor rate was undoubtedly the heaviest 
tax borne by our ancestors in those days. It was computed, in 
the reign of Charles the Second, at near seven hundred thou- 
sand pounds a year, much more than the produce either of the 
excise or of the customs, and little less than half the entire 
revenue of the crown. The poor rate went on increasing rapidly, 
and appears to have risen in a short time to between eight and 
nine hundred thousand a year, that is to say, to one sixth of 
what it now is. The population was then less than a third of 
what it now is. The minimum of wages, estimated in money, 
was half of what it now is ; and we can therefore hardly suppose 
that the average allowance made to a pauper can have been 
more than half of what it now is. It seems to follow that the 
proportion of the English people which received parochial relief 
then must have been larger than the proportion which receives 


relief now. It is good to speak on such questions with dif- 
fidence : but it has certainly never yet been proved that pau- 
perism was a less heavy burden or a less serious social evil 
during the last quarter of the seventeenth century than it is in 
our own time.* 

In one respect it must be admitted that the progress of civ- 
ilization has diminished the physical comforts of a portion of the 
poorest class. It has already been mentioned that, before the 
Revolution, many thousands of square miles, now enclosed and 
cultivated, were marsh, forest, and heath. Of this wild laud 
much was, by law, common, and much of what was not common 
by law was worth so little that the proprietors suffered it to be 
common in fact. In such a tract, squatters and trespassers were 
tolerated to an extent now unknown. The peasant who dwelt 
there could, at little or no charge, procure occasionally some 
palatable addition to his hard fare, and provide himself with 
fuel for the winter. He kept a flock of geese on what is now 
an orchard rich with apple blossoms. He snared wild fowl on the 
fen which has long since been drained and divided into corn-fields 
and turnip fields. He cut turf among the furze bushes on the 
mooi which is now a meadow bright with clover and renowned 
for butter and cheese. The progress of agriculture and the in- 
crease of population necessarily deprived him of these privileges. 
But against this disadvantage a long list of advantages is to be 
set off. Of the blessings which civilisation and philosophy bring 
with them a large proportion is common to all ranks, and would, 
if withdrawn, be missed as painfully by the labourer as by the 
peer. The market-place which the rustic can now reach with 

♦Fourteenth Report of the Poor Law Commissioners. Appendix B. No. 2, 
Appendix C. No 1, 1848. Of the two estimates of the poor rate mentioned in the 
text one was fo med by Arthur Moore, the other, some years later, by Richard 
Dunning. Moore's estimate will be found in Davenant's Essay on Ways and 
Means ; Dunning's in Sir Frederic Eden's valuable work on the poor. King and 
Davenant estimate the raupers and beggars in lG9f>, at the incredible number ol 
1,3.50,000 out <if a population of 5.n00,000. In 1846 the number of persons who 
received relief appears from the official returns to have been only 1. 322,089 out of 
a population of about 17.000,000. It ought also to be observed that, in those re- 
turns; a pauper must very often be reckoned more than once. 

1 would advise the reader to consult I)e Foe's pamphlet entitled " Giving 
Alms no Charity," and the Greenwich tables which will be found in Mr. M'Cul- 
loch's Commercial Dictionary under the head Prices. 


his cart in an hour was, a hundred and sixty years ago, a day's 
journey from him. The street which now affords to the artisan, 
during the whole night, a secure, a convenient, and a brilliantly 
lighted walk was, a hundred and sixty years ago, so dark after 
sunset that he would not have been able to see his hand, so ill 
paved that he would have run constant risk of breaking his neck, 
and so ill watched that he would have been in imminent danger 
of being knocked down and plundered of his small earnings. 
Every bricklayer who falls from a scaffold, every sweeper of 
a crossing who is run over by a carriage, may now have his 
wounds dressed and his limbs set with a skill such as, a hundred 
and sixty years ago, all the wealth of a great lord like Ormond, 
or of a merchant prince like Clayton, could not have purchased. 
Some frightful diseases have been extirpated by science ; and 
some have been banished by police. The term of human life 
lias been lengthened over the whole kingdom, and especially in 
the towns. The year 1685 was not accounted sickly ; yet in 
the year 1685 more than one in twenty-three of the inhabitants 
of the capital died.* At present only one inhabitant of the cap- 
ital in forty dies annually. The difference in salubrity between 
the London of the nineteenth century and the London of the sev- 
enteenth century is very far greater than the difference between 
London in an ordinary year and London in a year of cholera. 

Still more important is the benefit which all orders of 
society, and especially the lower orders, have derived from the 
mollifying influence of civilisation on the national character. 
The groundwork of that character has indeed been the same 
through many generations, in the sense in which the groundwork 
of the character of an individual may be said to be the same 
when he is a rude and thoughtless schoolboy and when he is a 
refined and accomplished man. It is pleasing to reflect that the 
public mind of England has softened while it has ripened, and 
that we have, in the course of ages, become, not only a wiser, 
but also a kinder people. There is scarcely a page of the his- 
tory or lighter literature of the seventeenth century which does 
not contain some proof that our ancestors were less humane than 
* The deaths were 23,222. Petty's Political Arithmetic. 



their posterity. The discipline of workshops, of schools, of pri- 
vate families, though not more efficient than at present, was 
infinitely harsher. Masters, well born and bred, were in the 
habit of beating their servants. Pedagogues knew no way of 
imparting knowledge but by beating their pupils. Husbands, 
of decent station, were not ashamed to beat their wives. The 
implacability of hostile factions was such as we can scarcely con- 
ceive. Whigs were disposed to murmur because Stafford was 
suffered to die without seeing his bowels burned before his face. 
Tories reviled and insulted Russell as his coach passed from the 
Tower to the scaffold in Lincoln's Inn Fields.* As little mercy 
was shown by the populace to sufferers of a humbler rank. 
If an offender was put into the pillory, it was well if he escaped 
with life from the shower of brickbats and paving stones. f If 
he was tied to the cart's tail, the crowd pressed round him, im- 
ploring the hangman to give it the fellow well, and make him 
liowl.f Gentlemen arranged parties of pleasure to Bridewell 
on court days for the purpose of seeing the wretched women 
who beat hemp there whipped. § A man pressed to death for 
refusing to plead, a woman burned for coining, excited less sym- 
pathy than is now felt for a galled horse or an overdriven ox. 
Fights compared with which a boxing match is a refined and 
humane spectacle were among the favourite diversions of a large 
part of the town. Multitudes assembled to see gladiators hack 
each other to pieces with deadly weapons, and shouted with de- 
light when one of the combatants lost a finger or an eye. The pris- 
ons were hells on earth, seminaries of every crime and of every 
disease. At the assizes the lean and yellow culprits brought 
with them from their cells to the dock an atmosphere of stench 
and pestilence which sometimes avenged them signally on bench, 
bar, and jury. But on all this misery society looked with pro- 
found indifference. Nowhera could be found that sensitive and 
restless compassion which has, in our time, extended a powerful 
protection to the factory child, to the Hindoo widow, to the 

* Burnet, i. 560. 

t Muggleton's Acts of the Witnesses of the Spirit. 

% Tom Brown describes such a scene in lines which I do not venture to quote. 

§ Ward's London Spy. 


ne^ro slave, which pries into the stores and watercasks of every 
emigrant ship, which winces at every lash laid on the back of a 
drunken soldier, which will not suffer the thief in the hulks to 
be ill fed or overworked, and which has repeatedly endeavoured 
to save the life even of the murderer. It is true that compassion 
ought, like all other feelings, to be under the government of 
reason, and has, for want of such government, produced some 
ridiculous and some deplorable effects. But the more we stud}'' 
the annals of the past, the more shall we rejoice that we live in 
a merciful age, in an age in. which cruelty is abhorred, and in 
which pain, even when de^orved, is inflicted reluctantly and 
from a sense of duty. Every class doubtless has gained largely 
by this great moral change : but the class which has gained most 
is the poorest, the most dependent, and the most defenceless. 

The general effect of the evidence which has been submitted 
to the reader seems hardly to admit of doubt. Yet, in spite of 
evidence, many will still image to themselves the England of the 
Stuarts as a more pleasant country than the England in which 
we live. It may at first sight seem strange that society, while 
constantly moving forward with eager speed, should be con- 
stantly looking backward with tender regret. But these two 
propensities, inconsistent as they may appear, can easily be 
resolved into the same principle. Both spring from our 
impatience of the state in which we actually are. That impa- 
tience, while it stimulates us to surpass preceding generations, 
disposes us to overrate their happiness. It is, in some sense, 
unreasonable and ungrateful in us to be constantly discontented 
with a condition which is constantly improving. But, in truth, 
there is constant improvement precisely because there is constant 
discontent. If we were perfectly satisfied with the present, we 
should cease to contrive, to labour, and to save with a view to 
the future. And it is natural that, being dissatisfied with the 
present, we should form a too favourable estimate of the past. 

In truth we are under a deception similar to that which mis- 
leads the traveller in the Arabian desert. Beneath the caravan 
all is dry and bare : but far in advance, and far in the rear, is 
the semblance of refreshing waters. The pilgrims hasten for- 



ward and find nothing but sand where an hour before they had 
seen a lake. They turn their eyes and see a lake where, an 
hour before, they were toiling through sand. A similar illusion 
seems to haunt nations through every stage of the long pro- 
gress from poverty and barbarism to the highest degrees of 
opulence and civilisation. But if we resolutely chase the mirage 
backward, we shall find it recede before us into the regions- of 
fabulous antiquity. It is now the fashion to place the golden 
age of England in times when noblemen were destitute of com- 
forts the want of which would be intolerable to a modern foot- 
man, when farmers and shopkeepers breakfasted on loaves the 
very sight of which would raise a riot in a modern workhouse, 
when to have a clean shirt once a week was a privilege reserved 
for the higher class of gentry, when men died faster in the 
purest country air than they now die in the most pestilential lanes 
of our towns, and when men died faster in the lanes of our 
towns than they now die on the coast of Guiana. We too shall, 
in our turn, be outstripped, and in our turn be envied. It may 
well be, in the twentieth century, that the peasant of Dorsetshire 
may think himself miserably paid with twenty shillings a week ; 
that the carpenter at Greenwich may receive ten shillings a 
day ; that labouring men may be as little used to dine without 
meat as they now are to eat rye bread ; that sanitary police and 
medical discoveries may have added several more years to the 
average length f human life : that numerous comforts and 
luxuries which are now unknown, or confined to a few, may be 
within the reach of every diligent and thrifty working man. 
And yet it may then be the mode to assert that the increase of 
wealth and the progress of science have benefited the few at 
the expense of the many, and to talk of the reign of Queen 
Victoria as the time when England was truly merry England, 
when all classes were bound together by brotherly sympathy, 
when the rich did not grind the faces of the poor, and when the 
poor did not envy the splendour of the rich. 



The death of King Charles the Second took the nation by 
surprise. His frame was naturally strong, and did not appear to 
have suffered from excess. He had always been mindful of h s 
health even in his pleasures ; and his habits were such as 
promise a long life and a robust old age. Indolent as he was 
on all occasions which required tension of the mind, he was 
active and persevering in bodily exercise. He had, when 
young, been renowned as a tennis player,* and was, even in the 
decline of life, an indefatigable walker. His ordinary pace was 
such that those who were admitted to the honour of his society 
found it difficult to keep up with him. He rose early, and 
generally passed three or four hours a day in the open air. He 
might be seen, before the dew was off the grass in St. James's 
Park, striding among the trees, playing with his spaniels, and 
flin^inor corn to his ducks ; and these exhibitions endeared him 
to. the common people, who always love to see the great 
unbend. f 

At length, towards the close of the year 1G84, he was pre- 
vented, by a slight attack of what was supposed to be gout, 
from rumbling as usual. He now spent his mornings in his 
laboratory, where he amused himself with experiments on the 
properties of mercury. His temper seemed to have suffered 
from confinement. He had no apparent cause for disquiet. 
His kingdom was tranquil : he was not in pressing want of 
money : his power was greater than it had ever been : the 
party which had long thwarted him had been beaten down ; but 

♦Pepys's Diary, Dec. 28, 1663, Sept. 2, 1667. 

t Burnet, i. 606 ; Spectator, No. 4C2 ; Lords' Journals, October 28, 1675 ; 
Cibbei's Apology. 


the cheerfulness which had supported him against adverse 
fortune had vanished in this season of prosperity. A trifle now- 
sufficed to depress those elastic spirits which had borne up 
against defeat, exile, and penury. His irritation frequently 
showed itself by looks and words such as could hardly have 
been expected from a man so eminently distinguished by good 
humour and good breeding. It was not supposed however that 
his constitution was seriously impaired.* 

His palace had seldom presented a gayer or a more scanda- 
lous appearance than on the evening of Sunday the first of 
February 1 685. f Some grave persons who had gone thither, 
after the fashion of that age, to pay their duty to their sove- 
reign, and who had expected that, on such a day, his court 
would wear a decent aspect, were struck with astonishment and 
horror. The great gallery of "Whitehall, an admirable relic of 
the magnificence of the Tudors, was crowded with revellers and 
gamblers. The king sate there chatting and toying with three 
women, whose charms were the boast, and whose vices were 
the disgrace, of three nations. Barbara Palmer, Duchess of 
Cleveland, was there, no longer young, but still retaining some 
traces of that superb and voluptuous loveliness which twenty 
years before overcame the hearts of all men. There too was 
the Duchess of Portsmouth, whose soft and infantine features 
were lighted up with the vivacity of France. Hortensia Man- 
cini, Duchess of Mazarin, and niece of the great Cardinal, 
completed the group. She had been early removed from her 
native Italy to the court where her uncle was supreme. His 
power and her own attractions had drawn a crowd of illus- 
trious suitors round her. Charles himself, during his exile, had 
sought her hand in vain. No gift of nature or of fortune 
seemed to be wanting to her. Her face was beautiful with the 
rich beauty of the South, her understanding quick, her manners 
graceful, her rank exalted, her possessions immense ; but her 
ungovernable passions had turned all these blessings into 

* Burnet, i. 605, 606 ; Welwood : North's Life of Guildford, 251. 

t I may take this opportunity of mentioning that whenever I give only one 
date, I follow the old style, which was, in the seventeenth century, the style of 
Jjlngland ; but I reckon the year from the first of January. 


curses. She had found the misery of an ill assorted marriage 
intolerable, had fled from her husband, had abandoned her vast 
wealth, and, after having astonished Rome and Piedmont by 
her adventures, had fixed her abode in England. Her house 
was the favourite resort of men of wit and pleasure, who, for 
the sake of her smiles and her table, endured her frequent fits 
of insolence and ill humour. Rochester and Godolphin some- 
times forgot the cares of state in her company. Barillon and 
Saint Evremond found in her drawing room consolation for 
their long banishment from Paris. The learning of Yossius, 
the wit of Waller, were daily employed to flatter and amuse 
her. But her diseased mind required stronger stimulants, and 
sought them in gallantry, in basset, and in usquebaugh.* 
While Charles flirted with his three sultanas, Hortensia's 
French page, a handsome boy, whose vocal performances were 
the delight of Whitehall, and were rewarded by numerous 
presents of rich clothes, ponies, and guineas, warbled some 
amorous verses. f A party of twenty courtiers was seated at 
cards round a large table on which gold was heaped in moun- 
tains. $ Even then the King had complained that he did not 
fet.l quite well. He had no appetite for his supper : his rest 
that night was broken ; but on the following morning he rose, 
as usual, early. 

To that morning the contending factions in his council had, 
during some days, looked forward with anxiety. The struggle 
between Halifax and Rochester seemed to be approaching a 
decisive crisis. Halifax, not content with having already 
driven his rival from the Board of Treasury, had undertaken to 
prove him guilty of such dishonesty or neglect in the conduct 
of the finances as ought to be punished by dismission from the 
public service. It was even whispered that the Lord President 
would probably be sent to the Tower. The King had promised 
to enquire into the matter. The second of February had been 
fixed for the investigation ; and several officers of the revenue 

* Saint Everemond, passim; Saint Real, M^moires de la Duehesse de Maza- 
rin ; Rochester's Farewell ; Evelyn's Diary, Sept. 6, 1676, June 11, 1699. 
t Evelyn's Diary, Jan. 28, 1684-5 ; Saint Evxeinond's Letter to Dery. 
t Id., February 4, 1684-5. 


had been ordered to attend with their books on that day.* But 
a great turn of fortune was at hand. 

Scarcely had Charles risen from his bed when his attend- 
ants perceived that his utterance was indistinct, and that his 
thoughts seemed to be wandering. Several men of rank had, 
as usual, assembled to see their sovereign shaved and dressed, j 
He made an effort to converse with them in his usual gay 
style ; but his ghastly look surprised and alarmed them. Soon 
his face grew black ; his eyes turned in his head ; he uttered a 
cry, staggered, and fell into the arms of one of his lords. A 
physician who had charge of the royal retorts and crucibles 
happened to be present. He had no lancet ; but he opened a 
vein with a penknife. The blood flowed freely ; but the King 
was still insensible. 

He was laid on his bed, where, during a short time, the 
Duchess of Portsmouth hung over him with the familiarity of 
a wife. But the alarm had been given. The Queen and the 
Duchess of York were hastening to the room. The favour- 
ite concubine was forced to retire to her own apartments. Those 
apartments had been thrice pulled down and thrice rebuilt by 
her lover to gratify her caprice. The very furniture of the 
chimney was massy silver. Several fine paintings, which prop- 
erly belonged to the Queen, had been transferred to the dwell- 
ing of the mistress. The sideboards were piled with richly 
wrought plate. In the niches stood cabinets, the masterpieces of 
Japanese art. On the hangings, fresh from the looms of Paris, 
were depicted, in tints which no English tapestry could rival, 
birds of gorgeous plumage, landscapes, hunting matches, the 
lordly terrace of Saint Germains, the statues and fountains of 
Versailles. f In the midst of this splendour, purchased by 
guilt and shame, the unhappy woman gave herself up to an 
agony of grief, which, to do her justice, was not wholly sel- 

* "Roger North's Life of Sir Dudley North, 170 ; The true Patriot vindicated, 
or a Justification of his Excellency the E of R ; Burnet, i. 605. The Treas- 
ury Books prove that Burnet had good intelligence. 

t Evelyn's Diary, Jan. 24, 1681-2, Oct. 4, 1683. 


And now the gates of Whitehall, which ordinarily stood 
open to all comers, were closed. But persons whose faces 
were known were still permitted to enter. The antechambers 
and galleries were soon filled to overflowing ; and even the sick 
room was crowded with peers, privy councillors, and foreign 
ministers. All the medical men of note in London were sum- 
moned. So high did political animosities run that the presence 
of some Whig physicians was regarded as an extraordinary 
circumstance.* One Roman Catholic, whose skill was then 
widely renowned, Doctor Thomas Short, was in attendance. 
Several of the prescriptions have been preserved. One of them 
is signed by fourteen Doctors. The patient was bled largely. 
Hot iron was applied to his head. A loathsome volatile salt, 
extracted from human skulls, was forced into his mouth. He 
recovered his senses ; but he was evidently in a situation of 
extreme danger. 

The Queen was for a time assiduous in her attendance. The 
Duke of York scarcely left his brother's bedside. The Primate 
and four other bishops were then in London. They remained 
at Whitehall all day, and took it by turns to sit up at night in 
the King's room. The news of his illness filled the capital with 
sorrow and dismay. For his easy temper and affable manners 
had won the affection of a large part of the nation ; and those 
who most disliked him preferred his unprincipled levity to the 
stern and earnest bigotry of his brother. 

On the morning of Thursday the fifth of February, the 
London Gazette announced that His Majesty was going on well, 
and was thought by the physicians to be out of danger. The 
bolls of all the churches rang merrily; and preparations for 
bonfires were made in the streets. But in the evening it was 
known that a relapse had taken place, and that the medical 
attendants had given up all hope. The public mind was great- 
ly disturbed ; but there was no disposition to tumult. The 
Duke of York, who had already taken on himself to give 
orders, ascertained that the City was perfectly quiet, and that 

* Dugdale's Correspondence. 


he mi^ht without difficulty be proclaimed as soon as his brother 
should expire. 

The King was in great pain, and complained that he felt as 
if a fire was burning within him. Yet he bore up against his 
sufferings with a fortitude which did not seem to belong to his 
soft and luxurious nature. The sight of his misery affected his 
wife so much that she fainted, and was carried senseless to her 
chamber. The prelates who were in waiting had from the first 
exhorted him to prepare for his end. They now thought it 
their duty to address him in a still more urgent manner. Wil 
liam Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, an honest and pious, 
though narrowminded, man, used great freedom. " It is time,* 
he said, " to speak out ; for, Sir, you are about to appear before 
a Judge who is no respecter of persons." The King answered 
not a word. 

Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, then tried his 
powers of persuasion. He was a man of parts and learning, of 
quick sensibility and stainless virtue. His elaborate works have 
long been forgotten ; but his morning and evening hymns are 
still repeated daily in thousands of dwellings. Though, like 
most of his order, zealous for monarchy, he was no sycophant. 
Before he became a Bishop, he had maintained the honour of his 
gown by refusing, when the court was at Winchester, to let 
Eleanor Gwynn lodge in the house which he occupied there as 
a prebendary.* The King had sense enough to respect so 
manly a spirit. Of all the prelates he liked Ken the best. It 
was to no purpose, however, that the good Bishop now put forth 
all his eloquence. His solemn and pathetic exhortation awed 
and melted the bystanders to such a degree that some among 
them believed him to be filled with the same spirit which, in the 
old time, had, by the mouths of Nathan and Elias, called sinful 
princes to repentance. Charles however was unmoved. He 
made no objection indeed when the service for the visitation of 
the sick was read. In reply to the pressing questions of the 
divines, he said that he was sorry for what he had done amiss ; 

* Hawkins's Life of Ken, 1713. 


and he suffered the absolution to be pronounced over him ac- 
cording to the forms of the Church of England : but, when he 
was urged to declare that he died in the communion of that 
Church, he seemed not to hear what was said ; and nothing could 
induce him to take the Eucharist from the hands of the Bishops. 
A table with bread and wine was brought to his bedside, but in 
vain. Sometimes he said that there was no hurry, and some- 
times that he was too weak. 

Many attributed this apathy to contempt for divine things, 
and many to the stupor which often precedes death. But there 
were in the palace a few persons who knew better. Charles 
had never been a sincere member of the Established Church. 
His mind had long oscillated between Hobbism and Popery. 
When his health was good and his spirits high he was a scoffer. 
In his few serious moments he was a Roman Catholic. The 
Duke of York was aware of this, but was entirely occupied 
with the care of his own interests. He had ordered the outports 
to be closed. He had posted detachments of the Guards in dif- 
ferent parts of the city. He had also procured the feeble signa- 
ture of the dying King to an instrument by which some duties, 
granted only till the demise of the Crown, were let to farm for 
a term of three years. These things occupied the attention of 
James to such a degree that, though, on ordinary occasions, he 
was indiscreetly and unseasonably eager to bring over proselytes 
to his Church, he never reflected that his brother was in danger 
of dying without the last sacraments. This neglect was the 
more extraordinary because the Duchess of York had, at the 
request of the Queen, suggested, on the morning on which the 
King was taken ill, the propriety of procuring spiritual assist- 
ance. For such assistance Charles was at last indebted to an 
agency very different from that of his pious wife and sister-in- 
law. A life of frivolty and vice had not extinguished in the 
Duchess of Portsmouth all sentiments of religion, or all that 
kindness which is the glory of her sex. The French ambassador 
Barillon, who had come to the palace to enquire after the King, 
paid her a visit. He found her in an agony of sorrow. She 
took him into a secret room, and poured out her whole heart to 


him. " I have," she said, " a thing of great moment to tell you. 
If it were known, my head would be in danger. The Kino- i s 
really and truly a Catholic ; but he will die without beino- rec- 
onciled to the Church. His bedchamber is full of Protestant 
clergymen. I cannot enter it without giving scandal. The 
Duke is thinking only of himself. Speak to him. Remind him 
that there is a soul at stake. Pie is master now. He can clear 
the room. Go this instant, or it will be too late." 

Barillon hastened to the bedchamber, took the Duke aside, 
and delivered the message of the mistress. The conscience of 
James smote him. He started as if roused from sleep, and de- 
clared that nothing should prevent him from discharging the 
sacred dutv which had been too Ion a: delayed. Several schemes 
were discussed and rejected. At last the Duke commanded the 
crowd to stand aloof, went to the bed, stooped down, and whis- 
pered something which none of the spectators could hear, but 
which they supposed to be some question about affairs of state. 
Charles answered in an audible voice, " Yes, yes, with all my 
heart." None of the bystanders, except the French Ambassador, 
guessed that the King was declaring his wish to be admitted into 
the bosom of the Church of Rome. 

" Shall I bring a priest ? " said the Duke. " Do, brother," 
replied the sick man. " For God's sake do, and lose no time. 
But no ; you will get into trouble." " If it costs me my life," 
said the Duke, " I will fetch a priest." 

To find a priest, however, for such a purpose, at a moment's 
notice, was not easy. For, as the law then stood, the person 
who admitted a proselyte into the Roman Catholic Church was 
guilty of a capital crime. The Count of Castel Melhor, a 
Portuguese nobleman, who, driven by political troubles from 
his native land, had been hospitably received at the English 
court, undertook to procure a confessor. He had recourse to 
his countrymen who belonged to the Queen's household ; but he 
found that none of her chaplains knew English or French 
enough to shrive the King. The Duke and Barillon were about 
to send to the Venetian Minister for a clergyman when they 
heard that a Benedictine monk, named John Huddleston, happen- 


ed to be at Whitehall. This man had, with great risk to him- 
self, saved the King's life after the battle of Worcester, and 
had, on that account, been, ever since the Restoration, a privi- 
leged person. In the sharpest proclamations which had been 
put forth against Popish priests, when false witnesses had 
inflamed the nation to fury, Huddleston had been excepted by 
name.* He readily consented to put his life a second time in 
peril for his prince ; but there was still a difficulty. The 
honest monk was so illiterate that he did not know what he 
ought to say on an occasion of such importance. He however 
obtained some hints, through the intervention of Castel Melhor, 
from a Portuguese ecclesiastic, and, thus instructed, was brought 
up the back stairs by Chiffinch, a confidential servant, who, if 
the satires of that age are to be credited, had often introduced 
visitors of a very different description by the same entrance. 
The Duke then, in the King's name, commanded all who were 
present to quit the room, except Lewis Duras, Earl of Fever- 
sham, and John Granville, Earl of Bath. Both these Lords 
professed the Protestant religion ; but James conceived that he 
could count on their fidelity. Feversham, a Frenchman of noble 
birth, and nephew of the great Turenne, held high rank in the 
English army, and was Chamberlain to the Queen. Bath was 
Groom of the Stole. 

The Duke's orders were obeyed ; and even the physicians 
withdrew. The back door was then opened ; and Father Hud- 
dleston entered. A cloak had been thrown over his sacred 
vestments ; and his shaven crown was concealed by a flowing 
wig. " Sir," said the Duke, " this good man once saved your 
life. lie now comes to save your soul." Charles faintly an- 
swered, " He is welcome." Huddleston went through his part 
better than had been expected. He knelt by the bed, listened 
to the confession, pronounced the absolution, and administered 
extreme unction. He asked if the King wished to receive the 
Lord's supper. " Surely," said Charles, " if I am not unworthy." 

* See the London Gazette of Nov. 21, 1G78. Barillon and Burnet say that 
Huddleston was excepted out of all the Acts of Parliament made against priests ; 
but this is a mistake. 


The host was brought in. Charles feebly strove to rise and 
kneel before it. The priest made him lie still, and assured him 
that God would accept the humiliation of the soul, and would 
not require the humiliation of the body. The King found so 
much difficulty in swallowing the bread that it was necessary 
to open the door and procure a glass of water. This rite ended, 
the monk held up a cruciiix before the penitent, charged him to 
fix his last thoughts on the sufferings of the Redeemer, and 
withdrew. The whole ceremony had occupied about three 
quarters of an hour ; and, during that time, the courtiers who 
filled the outer room had communicated their suspicions to each 
other by whispers and significant glances. The door was at 
length thrown open, and the crowd again filled the chamber of 

It was now late in the evening. The King seemed much 
relieved by what had passed. His natural children were brought 
to his bedside, the Dukes of Grafton, Southampton, and North- 
umberland, sons of the Duchess of Cleveland, the Duke of 
Saint Albans, son of Eleanor Gwynn, and the Duke of Rich- 
mond, son of the Duchess of Portsmouth. Charles blessed 
them all, but spoke with peculiar tenderness to Richmond. 
One face which should have been there was wanting. The 
eldest and best loved child was an exile and a wanderer. His 
name was not once mentioned by his father. 

During the night Charles earnestly recommended the Duchess 
of Portsmouth and her boy to the care of James ; " And do 
not," he good-naturedly added, " let poor Nelly starve." The 
Queen sent excuses for her absence by Halifax. She said that 
she was too much disordered to resume her post by the couch, 
and implored pardon for any offence which she might unwittingly 
have given. " She ask my pardon, poor woman ! " cried Charles ; 
" I ask hers with all my heart." 

The morning light began to peep through the windows of 
Whitehall ; and Charles desired the attendants to pull aside the 
curtains, that he might have one more look at the day. He 
remarked that it was time to wind up a clock which stood near 
his bed. These little circumstances were long remembered 


because they proved beyond dispute that, when he declared him- 
self a Roman Catholic, he was in full possession of his faculties. 
He apologised to those who had stood round him all night for 
the trouble which he had caused. He had been, he said, a most 
unconscionable time dying ; but he hoped that they would excuse 
it. This was the last glimpse of the exquisite urbanity, so often 
found potent to charm away the resentment of a justly incensed 
nation. Soon after dawn the speech of the dying man failed. 
Before ten his senses were gone. Great numbers had repaired 
to the churches at the hour of morning service. When the 
prayer for the King was read, loud groans and sobs showed how 
deeply his people felt for him. At noon on Friday, the sixth 
of February, he passed away without a struggle.* 

* Clark's Life of James the Second, i, 746. Grip. Mem.; Barillon's Despatch of 
Feh. 1-18, 1685 ; Van Citters's Despatches of Feb. 3-13 and Feb. 6-16. Huddleston's 
Narrative ; Letters of Philip, second Earl of Chesterfield, 277 ; Sir H. Ellis's 
Original Letters, First Seiies, iii. 333; Second Series, iv 74; Chaillot MS.; 
Burnet, i. 606 ; Fvelvn's Diary, Feb. 4. 1^84-5 ; Welwood's Memoires. 140 ; North's 
Life of Guildford, 252 ; Examen, 648 ; Hawkins's Life of Ken ; Dryden's Thren- 
odia Augustalis ; Sir II. Halford's Essay on Deaths of Eminent Persons. See 
also a fragment of a letter written by the Earl of Ailesbury, which is printed in 
the European Magazine for April, 1705. Ailesbury calls Burnet an impcstor. Yet 
his own narrative and Burnet's will not, to any candid and sensible reader, ap- 
pear to contradict each other. I have seen in the British Museum, and also in 
the Library of the Royal Institution, a curious broadside containing an account 
of the death of Charles. It will be found in the Somers Collections. The author 
was evidently a zealous Roman Catholic, and must have had access to good 
sources of information. I strongly suspect that he had been in communication, 
directly or indirectly, with James himself. No name is given at length ; but 
the initials are perfectly intelligible, except in one place. It is said that the D. 
of Y. was reminded of the duty which he owed to his brother by P. M. A. C. F. I 
must own myself quite unable to decipher the last five letters. It is some conso- 
lation that Sir Walter Scott was equally unsuccessful. (1848.) Since the fast 
edition of this work was published, several ingenious conjectures touching these 
mysterious letters have been communicated to me ; but I am convinced that the 
true solution has not yet been suggested. (1850.) I still greatly doubt whether the 
riddle has been solved. But the most plausible interpretation is one which, with 
some variations, occurred, almost at the same time, to myself and to several 
other persons ; I am inclined to read " Pere Mansuete A Cordelier Friar." 
Mansuete, a Cordelier, was then James's confessor. To Mansuete therefore it 
peculiarly belonged to remind James of a sacred duty which had been culpably 
neglected. The writer of the broadside must have been unwilling to inform the 
world that a soul which many devout Boman Catholics had left to perish had 
been snatched from destruction by the courageous charity of a woman of loose 
chnracter. It i- therefore not unlikely that he would prefer a fiction, at onco 
probable and edifying, to a truth which could not fail to give scandal. (1856.) 

It should seem that no transactions in history ought to be more accurately 


At that time the common people throughout Europe, and 
nowhere more than in England, were in the habit of attribu- 
ting the death of princes, especially when the prince was 
popular and the death unexpected, to the foulest and darkest 
kind of assassination. Thus James the First had been 
^accused of poisoning Prince Henry. Thus Charles the First 
had been accused of poisoning James the First. Thus when, in 
the time of the Commonwealth, the Princess Elizabeth died at 
Carisbrook, it was loudly asserted that Cromwell had stooped 
to the senseless and dastardly wickedness of mixing noxious 
drills with the food of a vouns eirl whom he had no con- 
ceivable motive to injure.* A few years later, the rapid de- 
composition of Cromwell's own corpse was ascribed by many 
to a deadly potion administered in his medicine. The death 
of Charles the Second could scarcely fail to occasion similar 

,known to us than those which took place round the deathbed of Charles the 
Second. We have several relations written by persons who were actually in his 
room. We have several relations written by persons who, though not themselves 
eyewitnesses, had the best opportunity of obtaining information from eye- 
witnesses. Yet whoever attempts to digest this vast mass of materials into a 
consistent narrative will find the task a difficult one. Indeed James and his 
wife, when they told the story to the nuns of Chaillot, could not agree as to 
some circumstances. The Queen said that, after Charles had received the last 
sacraments the Protestant Bishops renewed their exhortations. The King said 
that nothing of the kind took place. " Surely," soid the Queen, " you told me so 
yourself." " It is impossible that I have told you so," said the King ; " for 
nothing of the sort happened." 

It is much to be regretted that Sir Henry Halford should have taken eo little 
trouble ascertain the facts on which he pronounced judgment. He does not seem to 
have been aware of the existence of the narrative of James, Barillon, and Huddle- 

As this is the first occasion on which I cite the correspondence of the Dutch 
ministers at the English court, I ought here to mention that a series of their 
despatches, from the accession of James the Second to his flight, forms one of 
the most valuable parts of the Mackintosh collections. The subsequent des- 
patches, down to the settlement of the government in February, 16K9, I procured 
from the Hague. The Dutch archives have been far too little explored. They 
abound with information interesting in the highest degree to every Englishman. 
They are admirably arranged ; and they are in the charge of gentlemen whose 
courtesy, liberality and zeal for the interests of literature, cannot be too highly 
praised. I wish to acknowledge, in the strongest manner, my own obligations to 
Mr. De Jonge and to Mr. Van Zwanne. 

* Clarendon mentions this calumny with just scorn. "According to the 
charity of the time towards Cromwell, very many would have it believed to be 
by poison, of which there was no appearance, nor any proof ever after made . "— 
Book xiv. 


rumours. The public ear had been repeatedly abused by 
stories of Popish plots against his life. There was, therefore, 
in many minds, a strong predisposition to suspicion ; and 
there were some unlucky circumstances which, to minds so 
predisposed, might seem to indicate that a crime had been 
perpetrated. The fourteen Doctors who deliberated on the 
King's case contradicted each other and themselves. Some 
of them thought that his fit was epileptic, and that he should 
be suffered to have his doze out. The majority pronounced 
him apoplectic, and tortured him during some hours like an 
Indian at a stake. Then it was determined to call his com- 
plaint a fever, and to administer doses of bark. One physician, 
however, protested against this course, and assured the Queen 
that his brethren would kill the King among them. Nothing 
better than dissension and vacillation could be expected from 
such a multitude of advisers. But many of the vulgar not 
unnaturally concluded, from the perplexity of the great 
masters of the healing art, that the malady had some ex- 
traordinary origin. There is reason to believe that a horrible 
suspicion did actually cross the mind of Short, who, though 
skilful in his profession, seems to have been a nervous and 
fanciful man, and whose perceptions were probably confused 
by dread of the odious imputations to which he, as a Roman 
Catholic, was peculiarly exposed. We cannot, therefore, 
wonder that wild stories without number were repeated and 
believed by the common people. His Majesty's tongue had 
swelled to the size of a neat's tongue. A cake of deleterious 
powder had been found in his brain. There were blue spots 
on his breast. There were black spots on his shoulder. Some* 
thing had been put in his snuff-box. Something had been 
put into his broth. Something had been put into his favourite 
dish of eggs and ambergrease. The Duchess of Portsmouth 
had poisoned him in a cup of chocolate. The Queen had 
poisoned him in a jar of dried pears. Such tales ought to be 
preserved ; for they furnish us with a measure of the intelli- 
gence and virtue of the generation which eagerly devoured 
them. That no rumour of the same kind has ever, in the 


present age, found credit among us, even when lives on which 
great interest depended have been terminated by unforeseen 
attacks of disease, is to be attributed partly to the progress of 
medical and chemical science, but partly also, it may be hoped, 
to the progress which the nation has made in good sense, 
justice, and humanity.* 

When all was over, James retired from the bedside to his 
closet, where, during a quarter of an hour, he remained alone. 
Meanwhile the Privy Councillors who were in the palace as- 
sembled. The new King came forth, and took his place at 
the head of the board. He commenced his administration, 
according to usage, by a speech to the Council. He expressed 
his regret for the loss which he had just sustained, and he 
promised to imitate the singular lenity which had distin- 
guished the late reign. He was aware, he said, that he had 
been accused of a fondness for arbitrary power. But that 
was not the only falsehood which had been told of him. He 
was resolved to maintain the established government both in 
Church and State. The Church of England he knew to be 
eminently loyal. It should therefore always be his care to 
support and defend her. The laws of England, he also knew, 
were sufficient to make him as great a King as he could wish 
to be. He would not relinquish his own rights ; but he would 
respect the rights of others. He had formerly risked his life 
in defense of his country ; and he would still go as far as any 
man in support of her just liberties. 

This speech was not, like modern speeches on similar oc- 
casions, carefully prepared by the advisers of the sovereign. 
It was the extemporaneous expression of the new King's feel- 
ings at a moment of great excitement. The members of the 
Council broke forth into clamours of delight and gratitude. 

* Wei wood, 139- Burnet, i. 609 ; Sheffield's Character of Charles the Second ; 
North's Life of Guildford, 252 ; Examen, 648 ; Revolution Politics ; Higgonson 
Burnet. What North says of the embarrassment and vacillation of the physi- 
cians is confirmed by the despatches of Van Citters. I have been much perplex- 
ed by the strange story about Short's suspicions. I was, at one time, inclined to 
adopt North's solution. But, though I attach little weight to the authority of 
Welwood and Burnet in such a case, I cannot reject the testimony of so well in- 
formed and so unwilling a vitness as Sheffield. 


The Lord President, Rochester, in the name of his brethren, 
expressed a hope that His Majesty's most welcome declaration 
would be made public. The Solicitor General, Heneage Finch, 
oifered to act as clerk. He was a zealous churchman, and, as 
such, was naturally desirous that there should be some per- 
manent record of the gracious promises which had just been 
uttered. " Those promises," he said, " have made so deep an 
impression on me that I can repeat them word for word." 
He soon produced his report. James read it, approved of it, 
and ordered it to be published. At a later period he said 
that he had taken this step without due consideration, that 
his unpremeditated expressions touching the Church of Eng- 
land were too strong, and that Finch had, with a dexterity 
which at the time escaped notice, made them still stronger. * 

The King had been exhausted by long watching and by 
many violent emotions. He now retired to rest. The Privy 
Councillors, having respectfully accompanied him to his bed- 
chamber, returned to their seats, and issued orders for the 
ceremony of proclamation. The Guards were under arms ; 
the heralds appeared in their gorgeous coats ; and the pageant 
proceeded without any obstruction. Casks of wine were 
broken up in the streets, and all who passed were invited to 
drink to the health of the new sovereign. But, though an 
occasional shout was raised, the people were not in a joyous 
mood. Tears were seen in many eyes ; and it was remarked 
that there was scarcely a housemaid in London who had not 
contrived to procure some fragment of black crape in honour 
of King Charles.t 

The funeral called forth much censure. It would, indeed, 
hardly have been accounted worthy of a noble and opulent 
subject. The Tories gently blamed the new King's parsimony : 
the Whigs sneered at his want of natural affection; and the 
fiery Covenanters of Scotland exultingly proclaimed that the 
curse denounced of old against wicked princes had been 

* London Gazette, Feb. 0. KP4-. r > : f lnrke's Life of James the Second, ii. 3 ; 
Barillon. Feb. 0-10 ; Evelyn's Diary, Feb. fi. 

t See tli^ authorities HW in the last note. See also the Examen, 047 ; Bur- 
net, i. G20 ; Higgons on Burnet. 



signally fulfilled, and that the departed tyrant had been buried 
with the burial of an ass.* Yet James commenced his ad- 
ministration with a large measure of public good will. His 
speech to the Council appeared in print, and the impression 
which it produced was highly favourable to him. This, then, 
was the prince whom a faction had driven into exile and had 
tried to rob of his birthright, on the ground that he was a 
deadly enemy to the religion and laws of England. He had 
triumphed : he was on the throne ; and his first act was to 
declare that he would defend the Church, and would strictly 
respect the rights of his people. The estimate which all 
parties had formed of his character, added weight to every 
word that fell from him. The Whigs called him haughty, 
implacable, obstinate, regardless of public opinion. The 
Tories, while they extolled his princely virtues, had often 
lamented his neglect of the arts which conciliate popularity. 
Satire itself had never represented him as a man likely to 
court public favour by professing what he did not feel, and 
by promising what he had no intention of performing. On 
the Sunday which followed his accession, his speech was 
quoted in many pulpits. "We have now for our Church," 
cried one loyal preacher, " the word of a King, and of a King 
who was never worse than his word." This pointed sentence 
was fast circulated through town and country, and was soon 
the watchword of the whole Tory party. t 

The great offices of state had become vacant by the demise 
of the crown ; and it was necessary for James to determine 
how they should be filled. Few of the members of the late 
cabinet had any reason to expect his favour. Sunderland, 
who was Secretary of State, and Godolphin, who was First 
Lord of the Treasury, had supported the Exclusion Bill. 
Halifax, who held the Privy Seal, had opposed that bill with 
unrivalled powers of argument and eloquence. But Halifax 
was the mortal enemy of despotism and of Popery. He saw 

* London Gazette, Feb. 14, 1684-5 ; Evelyn's Diary of the same day ; Burnet, 
i. 610 ; The Hind let loose. 

t Burnet, i. 628 ; Lestrange, Observator, Feb. 11, 1681. 


with dread the progress of the French arms on the Continent, 
and the influence of French gold in the counsels of England. 
Had his advice been followed, the laws would have been 
strictly observed: clemency would have been extended to the 
vanquished Whigs : the Parliament would have been convoked 
in due season : an attempt would have been made to recon- 
cile our domestic factions ; and the principles of the Triple 
Alliance would again have guided our foreign policy. He had 
therefore incurred the bitter animosity of James. The Lord 
Keeper Guildford could hardly be said to belong to either of 
the parties into which the court was divided. He could by 
no means be called a friend of liberty ; and yet he had so 
great a reverence for the letter of the law that he was not a 
serviceable tool of arbitrary power. He was accordingly des- 
ignated by the vehement Tories as a Trimmer, and was to 
James an object of aversion with which contempt was largely 
mingled. Ormond, who was Lord Steward of the Household 
and Viceroy of Ireland, then resided at Dublin. His claims 
on the royal gratitude were superior to those of any other 
subject. He had fought bravely for Charles the First: he 
had shared the exile of Charles the Second ; and, since the 
Restoration, he had, in spite of many provocations, kept his 
loyalty unstained. Though he had been disgraced during the 
predominance of the Cabal, he had never gone into factious 
opposition, and had, in the days of the Popish Plot and the 
Exclusion Bill, been foremost among the supporters of the 
throne. He was now old, and had been recently tried by the 
most cruel of all calamities. He had followed to the grave 
a son who should have been his own chief mourner, the 
gallant Ossory. The eminent services, the venerable age, and 
the domestic misfortunes of Ormond made him an object of 
general interest to the nation. The Cavaliers regarded him 
as, both by right of seniority and by right of merit, their 
head ; and the Whigs knew that, faithful as he had always 
been to the cause of monarchy, he was no friend either to 
Popery or to arbitrary power. But, high as he stood in the 
public estimation, he had little favor to expect from his new 


master. James, indeed, while still a subject, had urged his 
brother to make a complete change in the Irish administra- 
tion. Charles had assented; and it had been arranged that 5 
in a few months, there should be a new Lord Lieutenant.* 

Rochester was ■ the only member of the cabinet who stood 
high in the favour of the King. The general expectation was 
that he would be immediately placed at the head of affairs, and 
that all the other great officers of the state would be changed. 
This expectation proved to be well founded in part only. 
Rochester was declared Lord Treasurer, and thus became 
prime minister. Neither a Lord High Admiral nor a Board 
of Admiralty was appointed. The new King, who loved the 
details of naval business, and would have made a respectable 
clerk in a dockyard at Chatham, determined to be his own 
minister of marine. Under him the management of that im- 
portant department was confided to Samuel Pepys, whose 
library and diary have kept his name fresh to our time. Xo 
servant of the late sovereign was publicly disgraced. Sunder- 
land exerted so much art and address, employed so many 
intercessors, and was in possession of so many secrets, that 
he was suffered to retain his seals. Godolphin's obsequious- 
ness, industry, experience and taciturnity, could ill be spared. 
Ashe was no longer wanted at the Treasury, he was made 
Chamberlain to the Queen. With these three Lords the 
King took counsel on all important questions. As to Halifax, 
Ormond, and Guildford, he determined not yet to dismiss 
them, but merely to humble and annoy them. 

Halifax was told that he must give up the Privy seal and 
accept the Presidency of the Council. He submitted with 
extreme reluctance. For, though the President of the Council 
had always taken precedence of the Lord Privy Seal, the 
Lord Privy Seal was, in that age, a much more important 
officer than the Lord President. Rochester had not forgotten 
the jest which had been made a few months before on his 

* The letters -which passed between Rochester and Ormond on this subject 
will be found in the Clarendon Correspondence. 


own removal from the Treasury, and enjoyed in his turn 
the pleasure of kicking his rival up stairs. The Privy Seal 
was delivered to Rochester's elder brother, Henry Earl of 

To Barillon James expressed the strongest dislike of Halifax. 
u I know him well, I never can trust him. He shall have no 
share in the management of public business. As to the place 
which I have given him, it will just serve to show how little 
influence he has." But to Halifax it was thought convenient 
to hold a very different language. " All the past is forgotten," 
said the King, " except the service which you did me in the 
debate on the Exclusion Bill." This speech has often been 
cited to prove that James was not .so vindictive as he had been 
called by his enemies. It seems rather to prove that he by 
no means deserved the praises which have been bestowed on 
his sincerity by his friends.* 

Ormond was politely informed that his services were no 
longer needed in Ireland, and was invited to repair to White- 
hall, and to perform the functions of Lord Steward. He 
dutifully submitted, but did not affect to deny that the new 
arrangement wounded his feelings deeply. On the eve of his 
departure he gave a magnificent banquet at Kilmainham 
Hospital, then just completed, to the officers of the garrison 
of Dublin. After dinner he rose, filled a goblet to the brim 
with wine, and, holding it up, asked whether he had spilt one 
drop. " No, gentlemen ; whatever the courtiers may say, I 
am not yet sunk into dotage. My hand does not fail me yet : 
and my hand is not steadier than my heart. To the health 
of King James ! " Such was the last farewell of Ormond to 
Ireland. He left the administration in the hands of Lords 
Jn-tices, and repaired to London, where he was received with 
unusual marks of public respect. Many persons of rauk went 
forth to meot him on the road. A long train of equipages 
followed him into Saint James's Square, where his mansion 

* TTip miniftprial rliarxv? are announced in the London Gazette, Feb. 10, 1684-SL 
Sop Burnet, i. 621 ; Barillon, Feb. 9-19, 16-26; and £^3 

' Mar. 1. 


stood ; and the Square was thronged by a multitude which 
greeted him with loud acclamations.* 

The Great Seal was left in Guildford's custody ; but a 
marked indignity was at the same time offered to him. It 
was determined that another lawyer of more vigour and auda- 
city should be called to assist in the administration. The 
person selected was Sir George Jeffreys, Chief Justice of the 
Court of King's Bench. The depravity of this man has passed 
into a proverb. Both the great English parties have attacked 
his memory with emulous violence : for the Whigs considered 
him as their most barbarous enemy ; and the Tories found it 
convenient to throw on him the blame of all the crimes which 
had sullied their triumph. A diligent and candid enquiry 
will show that some frightful stories which have been told 
concerning him are false or exaggerated. Yet the dispas- 
sionate historian will be able to make very little deduction 
from the vast mass of infamy with which the memory of the 
wicked judge has been loaded. 

He was a man of quick and vigorous parts, but constitu- 
tionally prone to insolence and to the angry passions. When 
just emerging from boyhood he had risen into practice at the 
Old Bailey bar, a bar where advocates have always used a 
license of tongue unknown in Westminster Hall. Here, 
during many years his chief business was to examine and 
crossexamine the most hardened miscreants of a great capital. 
Daily conflicts with prostitutes and thieves called out and 
exercised his powers so effectually that he became the most 
consummate bully ever known in his profession. Tenderness 
for others and respect for himself were feelings alike unknown 
to him. He acquired a boundless command of the rhetoric 
in which the vulgar express hatred and contempt. The pro- 
fusion ,of maledictions and vituperative epithets which com- 
posed his vocabulary could hardly have been rivalled in the 
fishmarket or the beargarden. His countenance and his voice 
must always have been unamiable. But these natural advan- 

* Carte's Life of Ormond : Secret Consults of the Romish Party in Ireland, 
1690 ; Memoirs of Ireland, 1716. 


t a rres, — for such he seems to have thought them, — lie had 
improved to such a degree that there were few who, in his 
paroxysms of rage, could see or hear him without emotion. 
Impudence and ferocity sate upon his brow. The glare of his 
eves had a fascination for the unhappy victim on whom they 
\vre fixed. Yet his brow and his eye were less terrible than 
the savage lines of his mouth. His yell of fury, as was said 
by one who had often heard it, sounded like the thunder of 
the judgment day. These qualifications he carried, while still 
a vounir man, from the bar to the bench. He earlv became 
Common Serjeant, and then Recorder of London. Asa judge 
at the City sessions he exhibited the same propensities which 
afterwards, in a higher post, gained for him an unenviable, 
immortality. Already might be remarked in him the most 
odious vice which is incident to human nature, a delight in 
misery merely as misery. There was a fiendish exultation in 
the way in which he pronounced sentence on offenders. Their 
weeping and imploring seemed to titillate him voluptuously; 
and he loved to scare them into fits by dilating with luxuriant 
amplification on all the details of what they were to suffer. 
Thus, when he had an opportunity of ordering an unlucky 
adventuress to be whipped at the cart's tail, " Hangman," he 
would exclaim, u I charge you to pay particular attention to 
this lady ! Scourge her soundly man! Scourge her till the 
blood runs down ! It is Christmas, a cold time for Madam to 
strip in! See that you warm her shoulders thoroughly!"* 
He was hardly less facetious when he passed judgment on 
poor Lodowick Muggleton, the drunken tailor who fancied 
himself a prophet. " Impudent rogue ! " roared Jeffreys, 
" thou shalt have an easy, easy, easy punishment ! " One 
part of this easy punishment was the pillory, in which the 
wretched fanatic was almost killed with brickbats.! 

By this time the heart of Jeffreys had been hardened to 

* Chiistmai Sessions Paper of 1G7*. 

t The Acts of tli'; Witnesses of the Spirit, part v chapter v. Tn this work Lod 
owick, after his fashion, revenues himself on the " bawling devil," as he calls 
Jeffreys, by a string of curses which Ernulphus, or Jeffreys himself, might have 
envied. The trial was in January, 1677. 


that temper which, tyrants require in their worst implements. 
He had hitherto looked for professional advancement to the 
corporation of Loudon. He had therefore professed himself 
a Roundhead, and had always appeared to be in a higher state 
of exhilaration when he explained to Popish priests that they 
were to be cut down alive, and were to see their own bowels 
burned, than when he passed ordinary sentences of death. 
But, as soon as he had got all that the city could give, he 
made haste to sell his forehead of brass and his tongue of 
venom to the Court. Chiffinch, who was accustomed to act 
as broker in infamous contracts of more than one kind, lent 
his aid. He had conducted many amorous and many political 
intrigues ; but he assuredly never rendered a more scandalous 
service to his masters than when he introduced Jeffreys to 
Whitehall. The renegade soon found a patron in the ob- 
durate and revengeful James, but was always regarded with 
scorn aud disgust by Charles, whose faults, great as they 
were, had no affinity with insolence and cruelty. " That 
man," said the King, " has no learning, no sense, no manners, 
and more impudence than ten carted street-walkers." * Work 
was to be done, however, which could be trusted to no man 
who reverenced law or was sensible of shame ; and thus 
Jeffreys, at an age at which a barrister thinks himself fortu- 
nate if he is employed to conduct an important cause, was 
made Chief Justice of the King's Bench. 

His enemies could not deny that he possessed some of the 
qualities of a great judge. His legal knowledge, indeed, was 
merely such as he had picked up in practice of no very high 
kind. But he had one of those happily constituted intellects 
which, across labyrinths of sophistry, and through masses of 
immaterial facts, go straight to the true point. Of his intel- 
lect, however, he seldom had the full use. Even in civil 
causes his malevolent and despotic temper perpetually dis- 
ordered his judgment. To enter his court was to enter the 
den of a wild beast, which none could tame, and which was 

* This saying is to be found in many contemporary pamphlets. Titus Oates 
was never tired of quoting it. See his Ekwv BaoiAiKTj. 


as likely to be roused to rage by caresses as by attacks. He 
frequently poured forth on plaintiffs and defendants, barristers 
and attorneys, witnesses and jurymen, torrents of frantic 
abuse, intermixed with oaths and curses. His looks and tones 
had inspired terror when he was merely a young advocate 
struggling into practice. Now that he was at the head of 
the most formidable tribunal in the realm, there were few 
indeed who did not tremble before him. Even when he was 
sober, his violence was sufficiently frightful. But in general 
his reason was overclouded and his evil passions stimulated 
by the fumes of intoxication. His evenings were ordinarily 
given to revelry. People who saw him only over his bottle 
would have supposed him to be a man gross indeed, sottish, 
and addicted to low company and low merriment, but social 
and goodhumoured. He was constantly surrounded on such 
occasions by buffoons selected, for the most part, from among 
the vilest pettifoggers who practised before him. These men 
bantered and abused each other for his entertainment. He 
joined in their ribald talk, sang catches with them, and, 
when his head grew hot, hugged and kissed them in an ecstasy 
of drunken fondness. But though wine at first seemed to 
soften his heart, the effect a few hours later was very different. 
He often came to the judgment seat, having kept the court 
waiting long* and yet having but half slept off his debauch, 
his cheeks on fire, his eyes staring like those of a maniac. 
AVhen he was in this state, his boon companions of the pre- 
ceding night, if they were wise, kept out of his way : for the 
recollection of the familiarity to which he had admitted them 
inflamed his malignity ; and he was sure to take every oppor- 
tunity of overwhelming them with execration and invective. 
Not the least odious of his many odious peculiarities was the 
pleasure which he took in publicly browbeating and mortify- 
ing those whom, in his fits of maudlin tenderness, he had 
encouraged to presume on his favour. 

The services which the government had expected from him 
were performed, not merely without flinching, but eagerly 
and triumphantly. His first exploit was the judicial murder 


of Algernon Sidney. What followed was in perfect harmony 
with this beginning. Respectable Tories lamented the dis- 
grace which the barbarity and indecency of so great a func- 
tionary brought upon the administration of justice. But the 
excesses which filled such men with horror were titles to the 
esteem of James. Jeffreys, therefore, very soon after the death 
of Charles, obtained a seat in the cabinet and a peerage. This 
last honour was a signal mark of royal approbation. For, 
since the judicial system of the realm had been remodelled in 
the thirteenth century, no Chief Justice had been a Lord of 

Guildford now found himself superseded in all his political 
functions, and restricted to his business as a judge in equity. 
At Council he was treated by Jeffreys with marked incivility. 
The whole legal patronage was in the hands of the Chief 
Justice ; and it was well known by the bar that the surest 
way to propitiate the Chief Justice was to treat the Lord 
Keeper with disrespect. 

James had not been many hours King when a dispute arose 
between the two heads of the law. The customs had been 
settled on Charles for life only, and could not therefore be 
legally exacted by the new sovereign. Some weeks must 
elapse before a House of Commons could be chosen. If, in 
the meantime, the duties were suspended, the revenue would 
suffer ; the regular course of trade would be interrupted ; the 
consumer would derive no benefit , and the only gainers would 
be those fortunate speculators whose cargoes might happen to 
arrive during the interval between the demise of the crown 
and the meeting of the Parliament. The Treasury was be- 
sieged by merchants whose warehouses were filled with goods 
on which duty had been paid, and who were in grievous ap- 

* The chief sources of information concerning Jeffreys are the State Trials 
and North's Life of Lord Guildford. Some touches of minor importance T owe 
to contemporary pamphlets in verse and prose. Such are the Bloody Assizes, 
the Life and Death of George Lord Jeffreys, the Panegyric on the late Lord 
Jeffreys, the Letter to the Lord Chancellor, Jeff revs' s Elegy. See also Evelyn's 
Diary, Dec. 5. 1683, Oct. 3t. 1085. I scarcely need advise every reader to consult 
Lord Campbell's excellent Life of Jeffreys. 


prehension of being undersold and ruined. Impartial men 
must admit that this was one of those cases in which a 
government may be justified in deviating from the strictly 
constitutional course. But when it is necessary to deviate from 
the strictly constitutional course, the deviation clearly ought 
to be no greater than the necessity requires. Guildford felt 
this, and gave advice which did him honour. He proposed 
that the duties should be levied, but should be kept in the 
Exchequer apart from other sums till the Parliament should 
meet. In this way the King, while violating the letter of the 
laws, would show that he wished to conform to their spirit. 
Jeffreys gave very different counsel. He advised James to 
put forth an edict declaring it to be His Majesty's will and 
pleasure that the customs should continue to be paid. This 
advice was well suited to the King's temper. The judicious 
proposition of the Lord Keeper was rejected as worthy only 
of a Whig, or of what was still worse, a Trimmer. A procla- 
mation, such as the Chief Justice had suggested, appeared. 
Some people had expected that a violent outbreak of public indig- 
nation would be the consequence ; but they were deceived. 
The spirit of opposition had not yet revived ; and the court 
might safely venture to take steps which, five years before, 
would have produced a rebellion. In the City of London, 
lately so turbulent, scarcely a murmur was heard.* 

The proclamation, which announced that the customs 
would still be levied, announced also that a Parliament would 
shortly meet. It was not without many misgivings that 
James had determined to call the Estates of his realm together. 
The moment was, indeed, most auspicious for a general election. 
Never since the accession of the House of Stuart had the con- 
stituent bodies been so favourably disposed towards the Court. 
But the now sovereign's mind was haunted by an apprehension 
not to be mentioned even at this distance of time, without 
shame and indignation. He was afraid that by summoning his 
Parliament he might incur the displeasure of the King of 

* Loudon Gazette, Feb. 12, 1G84-5. North's Life of Guildford, 254. 


To the King of France it mattered little which of the two 
English factions triumphed at the elections : for all the 
Parliaments which had met since the Restoration, whatever 
might have been their temper as to domestic politics, had been 
jealous of the growing power of the House of Bourbon. On 
this subject, there was little difference between the Whigs and 
the sturdy country gentlemen who formed the main strength 
of the Tory party. Lewis had therefore spared neither bribes 
nor menaces to prevent Charles from convoking the Houses ; 
and James, who had from the first been in the secret of his 
brother's foreign politics, had, in becoming King of England, 
become also a hireling and vassal of France. 

Rochester, Godolphin, and Sunderland, who now formed 
the interior cabinet, were perfectly aware that their late 
master had been in the habit of receiving money from the 
court of Versailles. They were consulted by James as to the 
expediency of convoking the legislature. They acknowledged 
the importance of keeping Lewis in good humour : but it 
seemed to them that the calling of a Parliament was not a 
matter of choice. Patient as the nation appeared to be, 
there were limits to its patience. The principle, that the 
money of the subject could not be lawfully taken by the King 
without the assent of the Commons, was firmly rooted in the 
public mind ; and though, on an extraordinary emergency 
even Whigs might be willing to pay, during a few weeks, 
duties not imposed by statute, it was certain that even Tories 
would become refractory if such irregular taxation should 
continue longer than the special circumstances which alone 
justified it. The Houses then must meet ; and since it was 
so, the sooner they were summoned the better. Even the 
short delay which would be occasioned by a reference to 
Versailles might produce irreparable mischief. Discontent 
and suspicion would spread fast through society. Halifax 
would complain that the fundamental principles of the con- 
stitution were violated. The Lord Keeper, like a cowardly 
pedantic special pleader as he was, would take the same side. 
What might have been done with a good grace would at last 


\?e ./lone with a bad grace. Those very ministers whom His 
Majesty most wished to lower in the public estimation would 
gain popularity at his expense. The ill temper of the nation 
mio-ht seriously affect the result of the elections. These 
arguments were unanswerable. The King therefore notified 
to the country his intention of holding a Parliament. But 
he was painfully anxious to exculpate himself from the guilt 
of having acted undutifully and disrespectfully towards 
France. He led Barillon into a private room, and there 
apologised for having dared to take so important a step with- 
out the previous sanction of Lewis. " Assure your master," 
said James, " of my gratitude and attachment. I know that 
without his protection I can do nothing. I know what 
troubles my brother brought on himself by not adhering 
steadily to France. I will take good care not to let the 
Houses meddle with foreign affairs. If I see in them any 
disposition to make mischief, I will send them about their 
business. Explain this to my good brother. I hope that 
he will not take it amiss that I have acted without con- 
sulting him. He has a right to be consulted; and it is my 
wish to consult him about everything. But in this case the 
delay even of a week might have produced serious conse- 

These ignominious excuses were, on the following morn- 
ing, repeated by Rochester. Barillon received them civilly. 
Rochester, grown bolder, proceeded to ask for money. " It 
will be well laid out," he said : " your master cannot employ 
his revenues better. Represent to him strongly how im- 
portant it is that the King of England should be dependent, 
not on his own people, but on the friendship of France 
alone." * 

Barillon hastened to communicate to Lewis the wishes of 
the English government ; but Lewis had already anticipated 
them. His first act, after he was apprised of the death of 

* The chief authority for these transaction*! is P>,iri lion's despatch of Fein-u- 
nrv 9-19, MW5. Tt will be found in thn Appendix to Mr. Fox's History. See also 
Preston's Letter to James, dated April 18-28, 1685, in Dahymple. 


Charles, was to collect bills of exchange on England to the 
amount of five hundred thousand livres, a sum equivalent to 
about thirty-seven thousand five hundred pounds sterling. 
Such bills were not then to be easily procured in Paris at a 
day's notice. In a few hours, however, the purchase was 
eiiecLed, and a courier started for London.* As soon as 
Barillon received the remittance, he flew to Whitehall, and 
communicated the welcome news. James was not ashamed 
to shed, or pretend to shed, tears of delight and gratitude. 
" Nobody but your King," he said, " does such kind, such 
noble things. I never can be grateful enough. Assure him 
that my attachment will last to the end of my days." Ro- 
chester, Sunderland, and Godolphin came, one after another, 
to embrace the ambassador, and to whisper to him that he 
had given new life to their royal master.! 

But though James and his three advisers were pleased 
with the promptitude which Lewis had shown, they were by 
no means satisfied with the amount of the donation. As 
they were afraid, however, that they might give offence by 
importunate mendicancy, they merely hinted their wishes. 
They declared that they had no intention of haggling with 
so generous a benefactor as the French King, and that they 
were willing to trust entirely to his munificence. They, at 
the same time, attempted to propitiate him by a large sacri- 
fice of national honour. It was well known that one chief 
end of his politics was to add the Belgian provinces to his 
dominions. England was bound by a treaty which had been 
concluded with Spain when Danby was Lord Treasurer, to 
resist any attempt which France might make on those prov- 
inces. The three ministers informed Barillon that their 
master considered that treaty as no longer obligatory. It 
had been made, they said, by Charles : it might, perhaps, 
have been binding on him ; but his brother did not think 
himself bound by it. The most Christian King might, 

* Lewis to Bfirillon, Feb. 16-26, 1685. 
t Barillon, Feb. 16-26, 1685. 


therefore, without any fear of opposition from England, pro- 
ceed to annex Brabant and llainault to his empire.* 

It was at the same time resolved that an extraordinary 
embassy should be sent to assure Lewis of the gratitude and 
aifection of James. For this mission was selected a man 
wiio did not as yet occupy a very eminent position, but whose 
renown, strangely made up of infamy and glory, filled at a 
later period the whole civilized world. 

Soon after the Restoration, in the gay and dissolute times 
which have been celebrated by the lively pen of Hamilton, 
James, young and ardent in the pursuit of pleasure, had been 
attracted to Arabella Churchill, one of the maids of honour 
who waited on his first wife. The young lady was plain : 
but the taste of James was not nice : and she became his 
avowed mistress. She was the daughter of a poor Cavalier 
knight who haunted Whitehall, and made himself ridiculous 
by publishing a dull and affected folio, long forgotten, in 
praise of monarchy and monarchs. The necessities of the 
Churchills were pressing : their loyalty was ardent ; and 
their onlv feeling about Arabella's seduction seems to have 
been joyful surprise that so homely a girl should have attained 
such high preferment. 

Her interest was indeed of great use to her relations : but 
none of them was so fortunate as her eldest brother John, a 
fine youth, who carried a pair of colours in the foot guards. 
He rose fast in the court and in the army, and was early dis- 
tinguished as a man of fashion and of pleasure. His stature 
was commanding, his face handsome, his address singularly 
winning, yet of such dignity that the most impertinent fops 
never ventured to take any liberty with him ; his temper, 
even in the most vexatious and irritating circumstances, 
always under perfect command. His education had been so 
much neglected that he could not spell the most common 
words of his own language : but his acute and vigorous 
understanding amply supplied the place of book learning. 

• Barillon, Feb. 18-28, 168fl. 


He was not talkative : but when he was forced to speak in 
public, his natural eloquence moved the envy of practised 
rhetoricians.* His courage was singularly cool and imper- 
turbable. During many years of anxiety and peril, he never, 
in any emergency, lost even for a moment, the perfect use of 
his admirable judgment. 

In his twenty-third year he was sent with his regiment to 
join the French forces, then engaged in operations against 
Holland. His serene intrepidity distinguished him among 
thousands of brave soldiers. His professional skill com- 
manded the respect of veteran officers. He was publicly 
thanked at the head of the army, and received many marks 
of esteem and confidence from Turenne, who was then at the 
height of military glory. 

Unhappily the splendid qualities of John Churchill were 
mingled with alloy of the most sordid kind. Some propen- 
sities, which in youth are singularly ungraceful, began very 
early to show themselves in him. He was thrifty in his very 
vices, and levied ample contributions on ladies enriched by 
the spoils of more liberal lovers. He was, during a short 
time, the object of the violent but fickle fondness of the 
Duchess of Cleveland. On one occasion he was cauo-ht with 
her by the King, and was forced to leap out of the window. 
She rewarded this hazardous feat of gallantry with a present 
of five thousand pounds. With this sum the prudent young 
hero instantly bought an annuity of five hundred a year, 
well secured on landed property. t Already his private 
drawer contained a hoard of broad pieces which, fifty years 

* Swift who hated Marlborough, and who was little disposed to allow any 
merit to those whom he hated, says, in the famous letter to Crassus, " You are 
no ill orator in the Senate." 

t Dartmouth's note on Burnet, i. 264. Chesterfield's Letters, Nov, 18, 1748. 
Chesterfield is an unexceptional witness : for the annuity was a charge on the 
estate of his grandfather, Halifax. I believe that there is no foundation for a 
disgraceful addition to the story which may be found in Pope : 

" The gallant too, to whom she paid it down, 
Lived to refuse his mistress half a crown." 

Curll calls this a piece of travelling scandal. 


later, when he was a Duke, a Prince of the Empire, and the 
richest subject in Europe, remained untouched.* 

After the close of the war he was attached to the house- 
hold of the Duke of York, accompanied his patron to the 
Low Countries and to Edinburgh, and was rewarded for his 
services with a Scotch peerage and with the command of the 
only regiment of dragoons which was then on the English 
establishnient.f His wife had a post in the family of James's 
younger daughter, the Princess of Denmark. 

Lord Churchill was now sent as ambassador extraordinary 
to Versailles. He had it in charge to express the warm 
gratitude of the English government for the money which 
had been so generously bestowed. It had been originally 
intended that he should at the same time ask Lewis for a 
much larger sum ; but, on full consideration, it was appr< - 
bended that such indelicate greediness might disgust the bene- 
factor whose spontaneous liberality had been so signally 
displayed. Churchill was therefore directed to confine himself 
to thanks for what was past, and to say nothing about the 
future, t 

But James and his ministers, even while protesting that they 
did not mean to be importunate, contrived to hint, very intelli- 
gibly, what they wished and expected. In the French ambassador 
they had a dexterous, a zealous, and. perhaps, not a disinterested 
intercessor. Lewis made some difficulties, probably with the 
design of enhancing the value of his shifts. In a very few weeks, 
however, Barillon received from Versailles fifteen hundred thou- 
sand livres more. This sum. equivalent to about a hundred 
and twelve thousand pounds sterling, he was instructed to dole 

* Pope in Snence's Anecdotes. 

t See the Records of the first or "Royal "Dragoons. The annoint- 
ment of Churchill to the command of this regiment was ridiculed M an instance 
of ahsnrd partiality. One lamnoon of that, time, \vhi"h 1 do not '" , m' i niVr to 
have B^en in print, hut of which a manuscript copy is in the British Museum, 
contains these lines : 

" Let's riit our moit with ."noons : 

As th->t ChtiTnill "houM 
Be put to command the dragoons." 

X Barillon, Feb. 16-2G, UBB. 

27 I 


out cautiously. He was authorised to furnish the English gov- 
ernment with thirty thousand pounds, for the purpose of 
corrupting members of the New House of Commons. The rest he 
was directed to keep in reserve for some extraordinary emer- 
gency, such as a dissolution or an insurrection.* 

The turpitude of these transactions is universally acknowl- 
edged: but their real nature seems to be often misunderstood : 
for though the foreign policy of the last two Kings of the 
House of Stuart has never, since the correspondence of 
Barillon was exposed to the public eye, found an apologist 
among us, there is still a party which labours to excuse their 
domestic policy. Yet it is certain that between their domestic 
policy and their foreign policy there was a necessary and 
indissoluble connection. If they had upheld, during a single 
year, the honour of the country abroad, they would have been 
compelled to change the whole system of their administration 
at home. To praise them for refusing to govern in conformity 
with the sense of Parliament, and yet to blame them for sub- 
mitting to the dictation of Lewis, is inconsistent. For thev 
had only one* choice, to be dependent on Lewis, or to be de- 
pendent on Parliament. 

James, to do him justice, would gladly have found out a 
third way : but there was none. He became the slave of 
France : but it would be incorrect to represent him as a con- 
tented slave. He had spirit enough to be at times angry with 
himself for submitting to such thraldom, and impatient to 
break loose from it ; and this disposition was studiously en- 
couraged by the agents of many foreign powers. 

His accession had excited hopes and fears in every conti- 
nental court : and the commencement of his administration was 
watched by strangers with interest scarcely less deep than that 
which was felt by his own subjects. One government alone 
wished that the troubles which had, during three generations, 
distracted England, might be eternal. All other governments, 
whether republican or monarchical, whether Protestant or 

* Barillon, April 6-16 ; Lewis to Barillon, April 14-24. 


Roman Catholic, wished to see those troubles happily termi- 

The nature of the long contest between the Stuarts and their 
Parliaments was indeed very imperfectly apprehended by for- 
eign statesmen : but no statesman could fail to perceive the ef- 
fect which that contest had produced on the balance of power in 
Europe. In ordinary circumstances, the sympathies of the courts 
of Vienna and Madrid would doubtless have been with a prince 
struggling against subjects, and especially with a Roman Catholic 
prince struggling against heretical subjects : but all such sympa- 
thies were now overpowered by a stronger feeling. The fear 
and hatred inspired by the greatness, the injustice, and the arro- 
gance of the French King were at the height. His neighbours 
might well doubt whether it were more dangerous to be at war 
or at peace with him. For in peace he continued to plunder and 
to outrage them ; and they had tried the chances of war against 
him in vain. In this perplexity they looked with intense anxiety 
towards England. Would she act on the principles of the Triple 
Alliance or on the principles of the treaty of Dover ? On that 
issue depended the fate of all her neighbours. With her help 
Lewis might yet be withstood : but no help could be expected 
from her till she was at unity with herself. Before the strife 
between the throne and the Parliament bejjan, she had been a 
power of the first rank : on the day on which that strife terminated 
she became a power of the first rank again : but while the dis- 
pute remained undecided, she was condemned to inaction and to 
vassalage. She had been great under the Plantagenets and Tudors: 
she was again great under the princes who reigned after the 
Revolution : but, under the Kings of the House of Stuart, she 
was a blank in the map of Europe. She had lost one class of 
energies, and had not yet acquired another. That species of 
force, which, in the fourteenth century had enabled her to hum- 
ble France and Spain, had ceased to exist. That species of force, 
winch, m the eighteenth century, humbled France and Spain 
Once more, hud not yet been called into action. The government 
was no longer a limited monarchy after the fashion of the middle 
ages. It had not yet become a limited monarchy after tho 


modern fashion. With the vices of two different systems it had 
the strength of neither. The elements of our polity, instead of 
combining in harmony, counteracted and neutralised each other- 
All was transition, conflict, and disorder. The chief business of 
the sovereign was to infringe the privileges of the legislature. 
The chief business of the legislature was to encroach on the pre- 
rogatives of the sovereign. The King readily accepted foreign 
aid, which relieved him from the misery of being dependent 
on a mutinous Parliament. The Parliament refused to the Kins: 
the means of supporting the national honor abroad, from an 
apprehension, too well founded, that those means might be 
employed in order to establish despotism at home. The effect 
of these jealousies was that our country, with all her vast re- 
sources, was of as little weight in Christendom as the duchy of 
Savoy or the duchy of Lorraine, and certainly of far less weight 
than the small province of Holland. 

France was deeply interested in prolonging this state of 
things. # All other powers were deeply interested in bringing 
it to a close. The general wish of Europe was that James 
would govern in conformity with law and with public opinion. 
From the Escurial itself came letters, expressing an earnest 
hope that the new King of England would be on good terms 
with his Parliament and his people. f From the Vatican 

* I might transcribe half Barillon's correspondence in proof of this proposi- 
tion ; but I will quote only one passage, in which the policy of the French gov- 
ernment towards England is exhibited concisely and with perfect clearness. 

" On peuttenir pour un maxime indubitable que l'accord du Roy d'Angleterre 
avec son parlement, en quel que maniere qu'il se fasse, n'est pas conforme aux 
interets de V. M. Je me contente de penser ce^a sane m'en ouvrir a personne, et 

Feb 28 

ie cache avec soin mes sentimens k cet egard." — Barillon to Lewis, „ ' ■ ' 1687. 

J ° Mar 10, 

That this was the real secret of tbe whole policy of Lewis towards our country was 
perfectly understood at Vienna. The Emperor Leopold wrote thus to James, 

March 30 

—. — .-— -' 1689 : " Galli id unum agebant, ut, perpetuas inter Serenitatem vestram 

April 9, ' ' 

et ejusdem populos f ovendo simultates, reliquae Christianae Europe tanto securius 

t " Que sea unido con su reyno, y en todobuena intelligencia con el parla- 
mento." — Despatch from the King of Spain to Don Pedro Ronquillo, March 1G-C6, 
1685. This despatch is in the archives of Samancas, which contain a great mass 
of papers relating to English affairs. Copies of the most interesting of thore 
papers are in the possession of M. Guizot, and were by him lent to me. It is with 
peculiar pleasure that at this time, I acknowledge this mark of the friendship 
of so great a man. (1848.) 


itself came cautions against immoderate zeal for the Roman 
Catholic faith. Benedict Odescalchi, who filled the papal 
chair under the name of Innocent the Eleventh, felt, in his 
character of temporal sovereign, all those apprehensions with 
which other princes watched the progress of the French 
power. He had also grounds of uneasiness which were pecu- 
liar to himself. It was a happy circumstance for the Pro- 
testant religion that, at the moment when the last Roman 
Catholic King of England mounted the throne, the Roman 
Catholic Church was torn by dissension, and threatened with 
a new schism. A quarrel similar to that which had raged in 
the eleventh century between the Emperors and the Supreme 
Pontiffs had arisen between Lewis and Innocent. Lewis, 
zealous even to bigotry for the doctrines of the Church of 
Rome, but tenacious of his regal authority, accused the Pope 
of encroaching on the secular rights of the French Crown, 
and was in turn accused' by the Pope of encroaching on the 
spiritual power of the keys. The King, haughty as he was, 
encountered a spirit even more determined than his own. 
Innocent was, in all private relations, the meekest ar.d gentlest 
of men : but when he spoke officially from the chair of St. 
Peter, he spoke m the tones of Gregory the Seventh and of 
Sixtus the Fifth. The dispute became serious. Agents of 
the King were excommunicated. Adherents of the Pope were 
banished. The King made the champions of his authority 
Bishops. The Pope refused them institution. They took 
possession of the Episcopal palaces and revenues : but they 
wer P ineomppfent to perform the Episcopal functions. Before 
the struggle terminated, there were in France thirty prelates 
who could not confirm or ordain.* 

Had nnv prince then living except Lewis, been engaged in 
such a dispute with the Vatican, he would have had all Pro- 
estant o-nvernments on his side. But the fear and resent- 
ment which the ambition and insolence of the French King 

* Few F.nL'lieh readers will he desirous to £0 deep into the history of this quar- 
rel. Summaries will be found in Cardinal Bausset's Life of Bossuet, and in Vol- 
taire's Age of Lewis XIV. 


had inspired were such that whoever had the courage manfully 
to oppose him was sure of public sympathy. Even Lutherans 
and Calvinists, who had always detested the Pope, could not 
refrain from wishing him success against a tyrant who aimed 
at universal monarchy. It was thus that, in the present century, 
many who regarded Pius the Seventh as Antichrist were well 
pleased to see Antichrist confront the gigantic power of Napo- 

The resentment which Innocent felt towards France dis- 
posed him to take a mild and liberal view of the affairs of 
England. The return of the English people to the fold of 
which he was the shepherd would undoubtedly have rejoiced 
his soul. But he was too wise a man to believe that a nation 
so bold and stubborn, could be brought back to the Church 
of Rome by the violent and unconstitutional exercise of royal 
authority. It was not difficult to foresee that, if James 
attempted to promote the interests of his religion by illegal 
and unpopular means, the attempt would fail ; the hatred 
with which the heretical islanders regarded the true faith 
would become fiercer and stronger than ever ; and an indis- 
soluble association would be created in their minds between 
Protestantism and civil freedom, between Popery and arbi- 
trary power. In the meantime the King would be an object 
of aversion and suspicion to his people. England would still 
be, as she had been under James the First, under Charles the 
First, and under Charles the Second, a power of the third 
rank ; and France would domineer unchecked beyond the 
Alps and the Rhine. On the other hand, it was probable 
that James, by acting with prudence and moderation, by 
strictly observing the laws and by exerting himself to win the 
confidence of his Parliament, might be able to obtain, for 
the professors of his religion, a large measure of relief. Penal 
statutes would go first. Statutes imposing civil incapacities 
would soon follow. In the meantime, the English King 
and the English nation united might head the European 
coalition, and might oppose an insuperable barrier to the 
cupidity of Lewis. 


Innocent was confirmed in his judgment by the principal 
Englishmen who resided at his court. Of these the most 
illustrious was Philip Howard, sprung from the noblest houses 
of Britain, grandson, on one side, of an Earl of Arundel, on 
the other, of a Duke of Lennox. Philip had long been a 
member of the sacred college : he was commonly designated 
as the Cardinal of England ; and he was the chief counsellor 
of the Holy See in matters relating to his country. He had 
been driven into exile by the outcry of Protestant bigots ; and 
a member of his family, the unfortunate Stafford, had fallen 
a victim to their rage. But neither the Cardinal's own wrongs, 
nor those of his house, had so heated his mind as to make 
him a rash adviser. Every letter, therefore, which went from 
the Vatican to Whitehall, recommended patience, moderation, 
and respect for the prejudices of the English people.* 

In the mind of James there was a great conflict. We 
should do him injustice if we supposed that a state of vassal- 
age was agreeable to his temper. He loved authority and 
business. He had a high sense -of his own personal dignity. 
Nav, he was not altogether destitute of a sentiment which 
bore some affinity to patriotism. It galled his soul to think 
that the kingdom which he ruled was of far less account in 
the world than many states which possessed smaller natural ad- 
vantages ; and he listener! eagerly to foreign ministers when 
they urged him to assert the dignity of his rank, to place 
himself at the head of a great confederacy, to become the 
protector of injured nations, and to tame the pride of that 
power which held the Continent in awe. Such exhortations 
mode his heart swell with emotions unknown to his care- 
less and effeminate brother. But those emotions were soon 
subdued by a stronger feeling. A vigorous foreign policy 
necessarily implied a conciliatory domestic policy. It was 
impossible at onee to confront the micfht of France and to 
trample on the liberties of England. The executive govern- 
ment could undertake nothing great without the support of 

* Burnet, i. 661. and Letter from Rome ; Dodd's Church History, part viii. 
hook i. art. 1. 


the Commons, and could obtain their support only by acting 
in conformity with their opinion. Thus James found that 
the two things which he most desired could not be enjoyed 
together. His second wish was to be feared and respected 
abroad. But his first wish was to be absolute master at home. 
Between the incompatible objects on which his heart was set, 
he, for a time, went irresolutely to and fro. The conflict in 
his own breast gave to his public acts a strange appearance 
of indecision and insincerity. Those who, without the clue, 
attempted to explore the maze of his politics were unable to 
understand how the same man could be, in the same week, so 
haughty and so mean. Even Lewis was perplexed by the 
vagaries of an ally who passed, in a few hours, from homage 
to defiance, and from defiance to homage. Yet, now that the 
whole conduct of James is before us, this inconsistency seems 
to admit of a simple explanation. 

At the moment of his accession he was in doubt whether 
the kingdom would peaceably submit to his authority. The 
Exclusionists, lately so powerful, might rise in arms against 
him. He might be in great need of French money and 
French troops. He was therefore, during some days, content 
to be a sycophant and a mendicant. He humbly apologised 
for daring to call his Parliament together without the consent 
of the French government. He begged hard for a French 
subsidy. He wept with joy over the French bills of exchange. 
He sent to Versailles a special embassy charged with assur- 
ances of his gratitude, attachment, and submission. But 
scarcely had the embassy departed when his feelings under- 
went a change. He had been everywhere proclaimed without 
one riot, without one seditious outcry. From all corners of 
the island he received intelligence that his subjects were tran- 
quil and obedient. His spirit rose. The degrading relation 
in which he stood to a foreign power seemed intolerable. He 
became proud, punctilious, boastful, quarrelsome. He held 
such high language about the dignity of his crown and the 
balanced power that his whole court fully expected a com- 
plete revolution in the foreign politics of the realm. He 


commanded Churchill to send home a minute report of the 
ceremonial of Versailles, in order that the honours with which 
the English embassy was received there might be repaid, and 
not more than repaid, to the representative of France at 
f "Whitehall. The news of this change was received with delight 
at Madrid, Vienna, and the Plague.* Lewis was at first 
merely diverted. " My good ally talks big," he said ; " but 
he is as fond of my pistoles as ever his brother was." Soon, 
however, the altered demeanour of James, and the hopes with 
which that demeanour inspired both the branches of the 
House of Austria, began to call for more serious notice. A 
remarkable letter is still extant, in which the French King 
intimated a strong suspicion that he had been duped, and that 
the very money which he had sent to Westminster would be 
employed against him.f 

By this time England had recovered from the sadness and 
anxiety caused by the death of the goodnatured Charles. The 
Tories were loud in professions of attachment to their new 
master. The hatred of the Whigs was kept down by fear. 
That great mass which is not steadily Whig or Tory, but which 
inclines alternately to Whiggism and to Toryism, was still on 
the Tory side. The reaction which had followed the dissolution 
of the Oxford parliament had not yet spent its force. 

The King early put the loyalty of his Protestant friends to 
the proof. While he was a subject, he had been in the habit 
of hearing mass with closed doors in a small oratory which had 
been fitted up for his wife. He now ordered the doors to be 
thrown open, in order that all who came to pay their duty to 
him might see the ceremony. When the host was elevated 
there was a strange confusion in the antechamber. The 
Roman Catholics fell on their knees : the Protestants hurried 
out of the room. Soon a new pulpit was erected in the 
palace ; and, during Lent, a series of sermons was preached 

* Consultations of the Spanish Council of State on April 2-12 and April 16-26, 
in the Archives of Simancas. 

t Lewis to Barillon, ; Mrv n : 1C85 ; Burnet, i. G23. 

June 1, ' 


there by Popish divines, to the great discomposure of zealous 

A more serious innovation followed. Passion week came ; and 
the King determined to hear mass with the same pomp with 
which his predecessors had been surrounded when they repaired 
to the temples of the established religion. He announced his 
intention to the three members of the interior cabinet, and re- 
quested them to attend him. Sunderland, to whom all religions 
were the same, readily consented. Godolphin, as Chamberlain 
of the Queen, had already been in the habit of giving her his 
hand when she repaired to her oratory, and felt no scruple 
about bowing himself officially in the house of Rimmon. But 
Rochester was greatly disturbed. His influence in the country 
arose chiefly from the opinion entertained by the clergy and by 
the Tory gentry, that he was a zealous and uncompromising 
friend of the Church. His orthodoxy had been considered as 
fully atoning for faults which would otherwise have made him 
the most unpopular man in the kingdom, forboundleos arrogance, 
for extreme violence of temper, and for manners almost brutal. f 
He feared that, by complying with the royal wishes, he should 
greatly lower himself in the estimation of his party. After 
some altercation he obtained permission to pass the holidays out 
of town. All the other great civil dignitaries were ordered to 
be at their posts on Easter Sunday. The rites of the Church 
of Rome were once more, after an interval of a hundred and 
twenty-seven years, performed at Westminster with re^al 
splendour. The Guards were drawn out. The Knights of 
the Garter wore their collars. The Duke of Somerset, 
second in rank among the temporal nobles of the realm, carried 
the sword of state. A long train of great lords accompanied 
the King to his seat. But it was remarked that Ormond and 

Feb 10 

* Life of James the Second, i. 5. Barillon, jett 1 l 685 J Evelyn's Diary, 
Vlarch 5, 1684-5. 
t " To those that ask boons 

He swears by God's oons, 
And chides them as if they came there to steal spoons." 

Lamemable Lory, a ballad, 1684. 


Halifax remained in the antechamber. A few years before 
they had gallantly defended the cause of James against some 
of those who now pressed past them. Ormond had borne no 
share in the slaughter of Roman Catholics. Halifax had 
courageously pronounced Stafford not guilty. As the time- 
servers who had pretended to shudder at the thought of a Popish 
king, and who had shed without pity the innocent blood of 
a Popish peer, now elbowed each other to get near a Popish 
altar, the accomplished Trimmer might, with some justice, 
indulge his solitary pride in that unpopular nickname.* 

Within a week after this ceremony James made a far 
greater sacrifice of his own religious prejudices than he had 
yet called on any of his Protestant subjects to make. He was 
crowned on the twenty-third of April, the feast of the patron 
saint of the realm. The Abbey and the Hall were splendidly 
decorated. The presence of the Queen and of the peeresses 
gave to the solemnity a charm which had been wanting to the 
magnificent inauguration of the late King. Yet those who 
remembered that inauguration pronounced that there was a 
great falling off. The ancient usage was that, before a coro- 
nation, the sovereign, with all his heralds, judges, councillors, 
lords, and great dignitaries, should ride in state from the 
Tower of Westminster. Of these cavalcades the last and the 
most glorious was that which passed through the capital 
while the feelings excited by the Restoration were still in 
full vigour. Arches of triumph overhung the road. All Corn- 
hill. Cheapside, Saint Paul's Church Yard, Fleet Street, and 
the Strand, were lined with scaffolding. The whole city had 
thus been admitted to gaze on royalty in the most splendid 
and solemn form that royalty could wear. James ordered an 
estimate to be made of the cost of such a procession, and 
found thit it would amount to about half as much as he pro- 
posed to expend in covering his wife with trinkets. He 
accordingly determined to be profuse where he ought to have 
been frugal, and niggardly where he might pardonably have 
been profuse. More than a hundred thousand pounds were 

* Barillon, April 20-30. 1685. 


laid out in dressing the Queen, and the procession from the 
Tower was omitted. The folly of this course is obvious. If 
pageantry be of any use in politics, it is of use as a means of 
striking the imagination of the multitude. It is surely the 
height of absurdity to shut out the populace from a show of 
which the main object is to make an impression on the populace. 
James would have shown a more judicious munificence and a 
more judicious parsimony, if he had traversed London from 
east to west with the accustomed pomp, and had ordered the 
robes of his wife to be somewhat less thickly set with pearls 
and diamonds. His example was, however, long followed by 
his successors ; and sums, which, well employed, would have 
afforded exquisite gratification to a large part of the nation, 
were squandered on an exhibition to which only three or four 
thousand privileged persons were admitted. At length the 
old practice was partially revived. On the day of the coro- 
nation of Queen Victoria there was a procession in which many 
deficiencies might be noted, but which was seen with interest 
and delight by half a million of her subjects, and which un- 
doubtedly gave far greater pleasure, and called forth far great- 
er enthusiasm, than the more costly display which was wit- 
nessed by a select circle within the Abbey. 

James had ordered Sancroft to abridge the ritual. The 
reason publicly assigned was that the day was too short for 
all that was to be done. But whoever examines the changes 
which were made will see that the real object was to remove 
some things highly offensive to the religious feelings of a 
zealous Roman Catholic. The Communion Service was not 
read. The ceremony of presenting the sovereign with a richly 
bound copy of the English Bible, and of exhorting him to 
prize above all earthly treasures a volume which he had been 
taught to regard as adulterated with false doctrine, was omit- 
ted. What remained, however, after all this curtailment, 
might well have raised scruples in the mind of a man who 
sincerely believed the Church of England to be a heretical 
society, within the pale of which salvation was not to be 
found. The King made an oblation on the altar. He appeared 


to join in the petitions of the Litany which was chaunted by 
the Bishops. He received from those false prophets the unc- 
tion typical of a divine influence, and knelt with the semblance 
of devotion, while they called down upon him that Holy Spirit 
of which they were, in his estimation, the malignant and 
obdurate foes. Such are the inconsistencies of human nature 
that this man, who, from a fanatical zeal for his religion, 
threw away three kingdoms, yet chose to commit what was 
little short of an act of apostasy, rather than forego the childish 
pleasure of being invested with the gewgaws symbolical of 
kingly power.* 

Francis Turner, Bishop of Ely, preached. He was one of 
those writers who still affected the obsolete style of Arch- 
bishop Williams and Bishop Andrews. The sermon was made 
up of quaint conceits, such as seventy years earlier might have 
been admired, but such as moved the scorn of a generation 
accustomed to the purer eloquence of Sprat, of South, and 
of Tillotson. King Solomon was King James. Adonijah 
was Monmouth. Joab was a Rye House conspirator ; Shimei, 
a Whig libeller ; Abiathar, an honest but misguided old 
Cavalier. One phrase in the Book of Chronicles was con- 
strued to mean that the King was above the Parliament ; and 
another was cited to prove that he alone ought to command 
the militia. Towards the close of the discourse the orator 
very timidly alluded to the new and embarrassing position in 
which the Church stood with reference to the sovereign, and 
reminded his hearers that the Emperor Constantius Chlorus, 
though not himself a Christian, had held in honour those 
Christians who remained true to their religion, and had 
treated with scorn those who sought to earn his favour by 
apostasy. The service in the Abbey was followed by a stately 
banquet in the Hall, the banquet by brilliant fireworks, and 
the fireworks by much bad poetry, f 

* From Adda's despatch of J ' tn - -• 1G8G, and from the expressions of the Pere 

d' Orleans (Histoire des Revolutions d' Angleterre, liv. xi.), it is clear that rigid 
Catholics thought the King's conduct indefensible. 

t London Gazette ; Gazette de France ; Life of James the Second, ii. 10 ; 
History of the Coronation of King James the Second and Queen Mary, by Francis 



This may be fixed upon as the moment at which the enthu- 
siasm of the Tory party reached the zenith. Ever since the 
accession of the new King, addresses had been pouring in 
which expressed profound veneration for his person and office, 
and bitter detestation of the vanquished Whigs. The magis- 
trates of Middlesex thanked God for having confounded the 
designs of those regicides and exclusionists who, not content 
with having murdered one blessed monarch, were bent on 
destroying the foundations of monarchy. The city of Glou- 
cester execrated the bloodthirsty villains who had tried to 
deprive His Majesty of his just inheritance. The burgesses 
of Wigan assured their sovereign that they would defend him 
against all plotting Achitophels and rebellious Absaloms. The 
grand jury of Suffolk expressed a hope that the Parliament 
would proscribe all the exclusionists. Many corporations 
pledged themselves never to return to the House of Commons 
any person who had voted for taking away the birthright of 
James. Even the capital was profoundly obsequious. The 
lawyers and the traders vied with each other in servility. Inns 
of Court and Inns of Chancery sent up fervent professions of 
attachment and submission. All the great commercial societies, 
the East India Company, the African Company, the Turkey 
Company, the Muscovy Company, the Hudson's Bay Company, 
the Maryland Merchants, the Jamaica Merchants, the Mer- 
chant Adventurers, declared that they most cheerfully complied 
with the royal edict which required them still to pay custom. 
Bristol, the second city of the island, echoed the voice of Lon- 
don. But nowhere was the spirit of loyalty stronger than in 
the two Universities. Oxford declared that she would never 
swerve from those religious principles which bound her to obey 

Sandford, Lancaster Herald. foL 1687 ; Evelyn's Diary, May. 21, 1685 ; Despatch 
of the Dutch Ambassadors, April 10-20, 1685; Burnet, i. 628; Eachard, iii. 734 ; A 
sermon preached before their Majesties Kino: James the Second and Queen 
Mary at their Coronation in Westminster Abbey, April 23, 1685, by Francis Lord 
Bishop of Ely, and Lord Almoner. I have seen an Italian account of the Coro- 
nation which was published at Modena, and which is chiefly remarkable for the 
skill with which the writer sinks the fact that the prayers and psalms were in 
English, and that the Bishops were heretics. 


the King without any restrictions or limitations. Cambridge 
condemned, in severe terms, the violence and treachery of those 
turbulent men who had maliciously endeavoured to turn the 
stream of succession out of the ancient channel.* 

Such addresses as these filled, during a considerable time, 
every number of the London Gazette. But it was not only by 
addressing that the Tories showed their zeal. The writs for 
the new Parliament had gone forth, and the country was agi- 
tated by the tumult of a general election. No election had 
ever taken place under circumstances so favourable to the 
Court. Hundreds of thousands whom the Popish plot had 
scared into Whiggism had been scared back by the Rye House 
plot into Toryism. In the counties the government could 
depend on an overwhelming majority of the gentlemen of three 
hundred a year and upwards, and on the clergy almost to a 
man. Those boroughs which had once been the citadels of 
Whiggism had recently been deprived of their charters by legal 
sentence, or had prevented the sentence by voluntary surren- 
der. They had now been reconstituted in such a manner that 
they were certain to return members devoted to the crown. 
Where the townsmen could not be trusted, the freedom had 
been bestowed on the neighbouring squires. In some of the 
small western corporations, the constituent bodies were in great 
part composed of Captains and Lieutenants of the Guards. The 
returning officers were almost everywhere in the interest of the 
court. In every shire the Lord Lieutenant and his deputies 
formed a powerful, active, and vigilant committee, for the pur- 
pose of cajoling and intimidating the freeholders. The people 
were solemnly warned from thousands of pulpits not to vote 
for any Whig candidate, as they should answer it to Him who 
had ordained the powers that be, and who had pronounced re- 
bellion a sin not less deadly than witchcraft. All these advan- 
t ige8 the predominant party not only used to the utmost, but 
abused i:i so shameless a manner that grave and reflecting men, 
who had been true to the monarchy in peril, and who bore no 

* See the London Gazette during the months of February, March, and April, 


love to republicans and schismatics, stood aghast, and augured 
from such beginnings the approach of evil times. * 

Yet the Whigs, though suffering the just punishment of 
their errors, though defeated, disheartened, and disorganized, 
did not yield without an effort. They were still numerous 
amonff the traders and artisans of the towns, and among the 
yeomanry and peasantry of the open country. In some dis- 
tricts, in Dorsetshire for example, and in Somersetshire, they 
were the great majority of the population. In the remodelled 
boroughs they could do nothing : but, in every county where 
they had a chance, they struggled desperately. In Bedford- 
shire, which had lately been represented by the virtuous and 
unfortunate Russell, they were victorious on the show of hands, 
but were beaten at the poll.t In Essex they polled thirteen 
hundred votes to eighteen hundred. t At the election for 
Northamptonshire the common people were so violent in their 
hostility to the court candidate that a body of troops was drawn 
out in the marketplace of the county town, and was ordered to 
load with ball.§ The history of the contest for Buckingham- 
shire is still more remarkable. The whig candidate, Thomas 
Wharton, eldest son of Philip Lord Wharton, was a man dis- 
tinguished alike by dexterity and by audacity, and destined to 
play a conspicuous, though not always a respectable, part in the 
politics of several reigns. He had been one of those members 
of the House of Commons who had carried up the Exclusion 
Bill to the bar of the Lords. The court was therefore bent on 
throwing him out by fair or foul means. The Lord Chief Jus- 
tice Jeffreys himself came down into Buckinghamshire, for the 

* It would be easy to fill a volume with what Whig historians and pamphlet- 
eers have written on this subject. I will cite only one witness, a churchman 
and a Tory. " Elections," says Evelyn. " were thought to be very indecently 
carried on in most places. God give a better issue of it than some expect ! " 
May 10, 1685. Again he says, " The truth is there were many of the new mem- 
bers whose elections and returns were universally condemned." May 22. 

t This fact I learned from a newsletter in the library of the Royal Institution. 
Van Citters mentions the strength of the Whig party in Bedfordshire. 

% Bramston's Memoirs. 

§ Reflections on a Remonstrance and Protestation of all the good Protestants 
of this Kingdom, 1689 ; Dialogue between Two Friends, 1689. 


purpose of assisting a gentleman named Hacket, who stood on 
the high Tory interest. A stratagem was devised which, it 
was thought, could not fail of success. It was given out that 
the polling would take place at Ailesbury ; and Wharton, 
whose skill in all the arts of electioneering was unrivalled, made 
his arrangements on that supposition. At a moment's warning 
the Sheriff adjourned the poll to Newport Pagnell. Wharton 
and his friends hurried thither, and found that Hacket, who 
was in the secret, had already secured every inn and lodging. 
The Whig freeholders were compelled to tie their horses to 
the hedges, and to sleep under the open sky in the meadows 
which surround the little town. It was with the greatest 
difficulty that refreshments could be procured at such short 
notice for so large a number of men and beasts, though Wharton, 
who was utterly regardless of money when his ambition and 
party spirit were roused, disbursed fifteen hundred pounds in 
one day, an immense outlay for those times. Injustice seems, 
however, to have animated the courage of the stouthearted yeo- 
men of Bucks, the sons of the constituents of John Hampden. 
Not only was Wharton at the head of the poll ; but he was 
able to spare his second votes to a man of moderate opinions, 
and to throw out the Chief Justice's candidate.* 

In Cheshire the contest lasted six days. The Whigs polled 
about seventeen hundred votes, the Tories about two thousand. 
The common people were vehement on the Whig side, raised the 
cry of " Down with the Bishops," insulted the clergy in the 
streets of Chester, knocked down one gentleman of the Tory 
party, broke the windows and beat the constables. The militia 
was called out to quell the riot, and was kept assembled, in 
order to protect the festivities of the conquerors. When the 
poll closed, a salute of five great guns from the castle proclaimed 
the triumph of the Church and the Crown to the surrounding 
country. The bells rang. The newly elected members went 
in state to the City Cross, accompanied by a band of music, 
and by a long train of knights and squires. The procession, as 

* Memoirs of the Life of Thomas Marquess of Wharton, 1715. 



it marched, sang " Joy to Great Caesar," a loyal ode, which had 
lately been written by Durfey, and which, though like all Dur- 
fey's writings, utterly contemptible, was, at that time, almost as 
popular as Lillibullero became a few years later.* Round the 
Cross the trainbands were drawn up in order : a bonfire was 
lighted : the Exclusion Bill was burned : and the health of 
King James was drunk with loud acclamations. The following 

o is 

day was Sunday. In the morning the militia lined the streets 
leading to the Cathedral. The two knights of the shire were 
escorted with great pomp to their choir by the magistracy of the 
city, heard the Dean preach a sermon, probably on the duty of 
passive obedience, and were afterwards feasted by the May or. t 

In Northumberland the triumph of Sir John Fenwick, a 
courtier whose name afterwards obtained a melancholy celeb- 
rity, was attended by circumstances which excited interest 
in London, and which were thought not unworthy of being 
mentioned in the despatches of foreign ministers. Newcastle 
was lighted up with great piles of coal. The steeples sent 
forth a joyous peal. A copy of the Exclusion Bill, and a 
black box, resembling that which, according to the popular 
fable, contained the contract between Charles the Second and 
Lucy Walters, were publicly committed to the flames, with 
loud acclamations. $ 

The general result of the elections exceeded the most san- 
guine expectations of the court. James found with delight 
that it would be unnecessary for him to expend a farthing in 
buying votes. He said that, with the exception of about forty 
members, the House of Commons was just such as he should 
himself have named. § And this House of Commons it was in 
his power, as the law then stood, to keep to the end of his 

Secure of parliamentary support, he might now indulge in 

* See the Guardian, No. 67 ; an exquisite specimen of Addison's peculiar 
manner. It would be difficult to find in the works of any other writer such an in- 
stance of benevolence delicately flavoured with contempt. 

t The Observator, April 4, 1685. 

% Despatch of the Dutch Ambassadors, April 10-20, 1685. 

§ Burnet, i. 626. 


the luyury of revenge. His nature was not placable ; and, 
while still a subject, he had suffered some injuries and indig- 
nities which might move even a placable nature to fierce and 
lusting resentment. One set of men in particular had, with 
a baseness and cruelty beyond all example and all description, 
attacked his honour and his life, the witnesses of the plot, 
lie may well be excused for hating them; since, even at this 
day, the mention of their names excites the disgust and horror 
of all sects and parties. 

Some of these wretches were already beyond the reach of 
human justice. Bedloe had died in his wickedness, without 
one sign of remorse or shame.* Dugdale had followed, driven 
mad, men said, by the Furies of an evil conscience, and with 
loud shrieks imploring those who stood round his bed to take 
away Lord Stafford. t Carstairs, too, was gone. His end had 
been all horror and despair ; and, with his last breath, he had 
told his attendants to throw him into a ditch like a dog, for 
that he was not fit to sleep in a Christian burial ground, t 
But Oates and Duno;erfield were still within the reach of the 
stern prince whom they had wronged. James, a short time 
before his accession, had instituted a civil suit against Oates 
for defamatory words ; and a jury had given damages to the 
enormous amount of a hundred thousand pounds. § The de- 
fendant had been taken in execution, and was lying in prison 
as a debtor, without hope of release. Two bills of indictment 
against him for perjury had been found by the grand jury of 
Middlesex, a few weeks before the death of Charles. Soon 
after the close. of the elections the trial came on. 

Among the upper and middle classes Oates had few friends 
left. The most respectable Whigs were now convinced that, 
even if his narrative had some foundation in fact, he had 
erected on that foundation a vast superstructure of romance. 

* A faithful account of the Sickness. Death, and Burial of Captain Bedlow, 
: Narrative of Lord Chief Justice North, 

t Smith's Intrigues of the Popish Plot, 1685. 
t P.nrnet, i. 439. 
§ See the proceedings in the Collection of State Trials. 


A considerable number of low fanatics, however, still regarded 
him as a public benefactor. These people well knew that, if 
he were convicted, his sentence would be one of extreme 
severity, and were therefore indefatigable in their endeavours 
to manage an escape. Though he was as yet in confinement 
only for debt, he was put into irons by the authorities of the 
King's Bench prison ; and even so he was with difficulty kept 
in safe custody. The mastiff that guarded his door was 
poisoned ; and, on the very night preceding the trial, a ladder 
of ropes was introduced into the cell. 

On the day in which Titus was brought to the bar, "West- 
minster Hall was crowded with spectators, among whom were 
many Roman Catholics, eager to see the misery and humilia- 
tion of their persecutor.* A few years earlier his short neck, 
his legs uneven, the vulgar said, as those of a badger, his 
forehead low as that of a baboon, his purple cheeks, and his 
monstrous length of chin, had been familiar to all who fre- 
quented the courts of law. He had then been the idol of the 
nation. Wherever he had appeared, men had uncovered their 
heads to him. The lives and estates of the magnates of the 
realm had been at his mercy. Times had now changed ; and 
many, who had formerly regarded him as the deliverer of his 
country, shuddered at the sight of those hideous features on 
which villany seemed to be written by the hand of God.f 

It was proved, beyond all possibility of doubt, that this 
man had by false testimony deliberately murdered several 
guiltless persons. He called in vain on the most eminent 
members of the Parliaments which had rewarded and extolled 
him to give evidence in his favour. Some of those whom he 
had summoned absented themselves. None of them said any- 
thing tending to his vindication. One of them, the Earl of 
Huntingdon, bitterly reproached him with having deceived the 
Houses and drawn on them the guilt of shedding innocent 
blood. The Judges browbeat and reviled the prisoner with an 

* Evelyn's Diary, May 7, 1685. 

t There remain many pictures of Gates. The most striking descriptions of 
his person are in North's Examen. 225, in Dryden's Absalom and Ackitophel, 
and in a broadside entitled, A Hue and Cry after T. O. 


intemperance which, even in the most atrocious cases, ill he- 
comes the judicial character. He betrayed, however, no sign of 
fear or of shame, and faced the storm of invective which burst 
upon him from bar, bench, and witness box, with the insolence 
of despair. He was convicted on both indictments. His of- 
fence, though, in a moral light, murder of the most aggravated 
kind, was, in the eye of the law, merely a misdemeanour. The 
tribunal, however, was desirous to make his punishment more 
severe than that of felons or traitors, and not merely to put him 
to death, but to put him to death by frightful torments. He was 
sentenced to be stripped of his clerical habit, to be pilloried in 
Palace Yard, to be led round Westminster Hall with an inscrip- 
tion declaring his infamy over his head, to be pilloried again in 
front of the Royal Exchange, to be whipped from Aldgate to 
Newgate, and, after an interval of two days, to be whipped 
from Newgate to Tyburn. If, against all probability, he should 
happen to survive this horrible infliction, he was to be kept 
close prisoner during life. Five times every year he was to be 
brought forth from his dungeon and exposed on the pillory in 
different parts of the capital.* This rigorous sentence was rig- 
orously executed. On the day on which Oates was pilloried in 
Palace Yard he was mercilessly pelted and ran some risk of 
being pulled in pieces.f But in the City his partisans mus- 
tered in great force, raised a riot, and upset the pillory. $ They 
were, however, unable to rescue their favourite. It was sup- 
posed that he would try to escape the horrible doom which 
awaited him by swallowing poison. All that he ate and drank 
was therefore carefully inspected. On the following morning 
he was brought forth to undergo his first florjijinsr. At an earlv 
hour an innumerable multitude filled all the streets from Aid- 
gate to the Old Bailey. The hangman laid on the lash with 
such unusual severity as showed that he had received special in- 
structions. The blood ran down in rivulets. For a time the 
criminal showed a strange constancy : but at last his stubborn 

* The proceedings will be found at length in the Collection of State Trials. 

t Gazette de France ,. ■ a 1085. 

t Despatch of the Dutch Ambassadors, May 19-20, 1685. 


fortitude gave way. His bellowings were frightful to hear. 
He swooned several times ; but the scourge still continued to 
descend. When he was unbound, it seemed that he had borne 
as much as the human frame can bear without dissolution. James 
was entreated to remit the second flogging. His answer was short 
and clear : " He shall go through with it, if he has breath in 
his body." An attempt was made to obtain the Queen's inter- 
cession ; but she indignantly refused to say a word in favour of 
such a wretch. After an interval of only forty-eight hours, 
Oates was again brought out of his dungeon. He was unable 
to stand, and it was necessary to drag him to Tyburn on a 
sledge. He seemed quite insensible ; and the Tories reported 
that he had stupified himself with strong drink. A person who 
counted the stripes on the second day said that they were seven- 
teen hundred. The bad man escaped with life, but so narrowly that 
his ignorant and bigoted admirers thought his recoverv miracu- 
lous, and appealed to it as a proof of his innocence. The doors 
of the pri on closed upon him. During many months he re- 
mained ironed in the darkest hole of Newgate. It was said that 
in his cell he gave himself up to melancholy, and sate whole 
days uttering deep groans, his arms folded, and his hat pulled 
over his eyes. It was not in England alone that these events 
excited strong interest. Millions of Roman Catholics, who knew 
nothing of our institutions or of our factions, had heard that a 
persecution of singular barbarity had raged in our island against 
the professors of the true faith, that many pious men had suf- 
fered martyrdom, and that Titus Oates had been the chief mur- 
derer. There was, therefore, great joy in distant countries when 
it was known that the divine justice had overtaken him. Engrav- 
ings of him, looking out from the pillory, and writhing at the 
cart's tail, were circulated all over Europe ; and epigrammatists, 
in many languages, made merry with the doctoral title which he 
pretended to have received from the University of Salamanca, 
and remarked that, since his forehead could not be made to 
blush, it was but reasonable that his back should do so.* 

* Evelyn's Diary, May 22, 1685 ; Eacbard, iii. 741 ; Burnet, i. 637; Observator, 
May 27, 1685 ; Oates's E'ikuv, 89 ; Ehdv fiporohoiyov, 1697 ; Commons' Journals of 


Horrible as were the sufferings of Oates, they did not equal 
his crimes. The old law of England, which had been suffered 
to become obsolete, treated the false witness, who had caused 
death by means of perjury, as a murderer.* This was wise 
and righteous ; for such a witness is, in truth, the worst of 
murderers. To the guilt of shedding innocent blood he has 
added the guilt of violating the most solemn engagement into 
which man can enter with his fellow men, and of making 
institutions, to which it is desirable that the public should look 
with respect and confidence, instruments of frightful wrong 
and objects of general distrust. The pain produced by 
ordinaiy murder bears no proportion to the pain produced by 
murder of which the courts of justice are made the agents. 
The mere extinction of life is a very small part of what makes 
an execution horrible. The prolonged mental agony of the 
sufferer, the shame and misery of all connected with him, the 
stain abiding even to the third and fourth generation, are things 
far more dreadful than death itself. In general it may be 
safely affirmed that the father of a large family would rather 
be bereaved of all his children by accident or by disease than 
lose one of them by the hands of the hangman. Murder by 
false testimony is therefore the most aggravated species of 
murder ; and Oates had been guilty of many such murders. 
Nevertheless the punishment which was inflicted upon him 
cannot be justified. In sentencing him to be stripped of his 
ecclesiastical habit and imprisoned for life, the judges exceeded 

May. June, and July, 1689 ; Tom Brown's advice to Dr. Oates. Some interesting 
circumstances are mentioned in a broadside, printed for A. Brooks, Cha ing Cross, 
1685. I have seen contemporary French and Italian pamphlets containing the 
history of the trial and execution. A print of Titus in the pillory was published 
at Milan, with the following curious inscription : " Questo e il naturale ritratto 
di Tito Otez. o vero Oatz, lnglese. posto in berlina, uno de' principali professori 
della religion protestante, acerrimo persecntore de' Cattolici, e gran spergiuro." 
I have also seen a Dutch engraving of his punishment, with some Latin verses, of 
which the following are a specimen : 

" At Doctor Actus non fictos pertulit ictus, 
A tortore rtntos hand mnUiin corpore gratos, 
Disceret ut vere scelera ob commi.ssa rufoere." 

The nm7rnm of his name. " Testis Ovat," may be found on many prints pub- 
lished in different countries. 
* Blackstune's Commentaries, Chapter of Homicide. 


their legal power. They were undoubtedly competent to inflict 
whipping; nor had the law assigned a limit to the number of 
stripes. But the spirit of the law clearly was that no misde- 
meanour should be punished more severely than the most atrocious 
felonies. The worst felon could only be hanged. The judges, 
as they believed, sentenced Oates to be scourged to death. 
That the law was defective is not a sufficient excuse : for 
defective laws should be altered by the legislature, and not 
strained by the tribunals ; and least of all should the law be 
strained for the purpose of inflicting torture and destroying 
life. That Oates was a bad man is not a sufficient excuse ; for 
the guilty are almost always the first to suffer those hardships 
which are afterwards used as precedents against the innocent. 
Thus it was in the present case. Merciless flogging soon 
became an ordinary punishment for political misdemeanours of 
no very aggravated kind. Men were sentenced, for words 
spoken against the government, to pains so excruciating that 
they, with unfeigned earnestness, begged to be brought to trial 
on capital charges, and sent to the gallows. Happily the prog- 
ress of this great evil was speedily stopped by the Revolution, 
and by that article of the Bill of Rights which condemns all 
cruel and unusual punishments. 

The villany of Dangerfield had not. like that of Oates, de- 
stroyed many innocent victims ; for Tanirerfield had not taken 
up the trade of a witness till the plot had been blown upon and 
till juries had become incredulous.* He was brought to trial, 
not for perjury, but for the less heinous offense of libel. He 
had, during the agitation caused by the Exclusion Bill, put 
forth a narrative containing some false and odious imputations 
on the late and on the present King. For this publication he 
was now, after the lapse of five years, suddenly taken up, 

* According to Roger North the judges decided that Dangerfield. having been 
previously convicted of perjury, was incompetent to be a witness of the plot. 
But this is one among many instances of Roger's inaccuracy. It appears, from 
the report of the trial of Lord Castlemaine in June 1680, (hat. after much alter- 
cation between counsel, and mucb consultation among the judges of the di'Terent 
courts in Westminster Hall, Dangerfield was sworn and suffered to tell his story ; 
but the jury very properly gave no credit to his testimony. 


brought before the Privy Council, committed, tried, convicted, 
and sentenced to be whipped from Aldgate to Newgate and 
from Newgate to Tyburn. The wretched man behaved with 
great effrontery during the trial ; but, when he heard his doom, 
he went into agonies of despair, gave himself up for dead, and 
r chose a text for his funeral sermon. His forebodings were 
just. He was not, indeed, scourged quite so severely as Oates 
had been ; but he had not Oates's iron strength of bjdy and 
mind. After the execution Dangerfield was put into a hackney 
coach and was taken back to prison. As he passed the corner of 
Hatton Garden, a Tory gentleman of Gray's Inn, named Fran- 
cis, stopped the carriage, and cried out with brutal levity, " Well, 
friend, have you had your heat this morning ? " The bleed- 
ing prisoner, maddened by this insult, answered with a curse. 
Francis instantly struck him in the face with a cane which in- 
jured the eye. Dangerfield was carried dying into Newgate. 
This dastardly outrage roused the indignation of the bystanders. 
They seized Francis, and were with difficulty restrained from 
tearing him to pieces. The appearance of Dangerfield's body, 
which had been frightfully lacerated by the whip, inclined many 
to believe that his death was chiefly, if not wholly, caused by 
the stripes which